Twitch Says It’s OK to Stream From a Hot Tub

Twitch Says It’s OK to Stream From a Hot Tub
Pools. Hot Tubs, and Beaches is officially a new category on Twitch. (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)

Twitch has officially released its policy on creators who livestream from hot tubs: It’s OK, as long as the streamer is in swimwear that is “contextually appropriate.”

The move comes days after it was revealed that the company had taken away advertising from streamer Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa, known on the platform for participating in what’s referred to as the “hot tub meta.”

Hot Tub Meta has been a growing trend on Twitch in recent months. It involves, simply, a streamer hanging out in a hot tub. However, streamers were placing their streams for discovery under the “Just Chatting” category, and that’s when the complaints started rolling in from pearl-clutching Twitch users. Streamers were chatting with viewers while sitting in a body of water, so it was technically categorised appropriately, but, well, the streamers were typically women wearing swimsuits. Cue the outrage.

Twitch addressed the recent controversy around hot tub streamers in a fairly lengthy blog post, where it explained how it “thoughtfully” and “respectfully” considered its new policies before buttoning down.

Much of the conversation we’ve seen has focused on the people who are streaming this and similar content, including assumptions about their motivations and intentions, and we want to make a few things clear: first and foremost, no one deserves to be harassed for the content they choose to stream, how they look, or who they are, and we will take action against anyone who perpetuates this kind of toxicity on our service. Second, while we have guidelines about sexually suggestive content, being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules, and Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness.

There you have it: It’s not a crime to be sexy in a hot tub, at least not in a Twitch stream. Twitch explains that in its current Nudity & Attire and Sexually Suggestive Content policies, streamers are allowed to appear in swimwear as it applies to the scene.

Twitch acknowledged that its rules were not very clear initially, but that it has no intention of banning all content that could be viewed as sexually suggestive: “Prohibiting every form of content that could be interpreted as suggestive would also result in far more restrictions on the video games and premium content that we currently allow, especially considering the ways that female characters are sometimes objectified or presented in a sexualized manner.”

In retrospect, a hot tub stream isn’t really any different than hanging out in the hot tub in your parents’ backyard with your friends. But the sheer fact that a majority of women were taking up space with the meme was enough to spark backlash on Twitch, notably from those looking to clamp down on what women can and can’t do on the streaming platform.

I myself once gave Twitch streaming a shot. I liked the idea of streaming whatever it is that I was doing — playing Skyrim or building a mechanical keyboard, more often than not — and having folks come through the chat to hang out. Then I had a kid, and trying to stream became too much effort. However, with this new Hot Tub streaming category, I might find myself returning to the platform to live stream my Epsom salt soak. You’re welcome, everyone. (Hey, nowhere does it say that Hot Tub streams have to be sexy, and personally, I think there are few things sexier than self care.)

Twitch also added some clarification about whether or not it retract advertising from streamers like Amouranth, noting that “brands get to decide where and when their ads appear.” However, brands cannot use “protected characteristics” — such as wearing a bikini on the stream — as a filter for advertising targeting or blocking.

For its part, Twitch plans to finalise its community guidelines and terms of service in the coming months so that it’s clear across the board. If you plan to stream from a hot tub, there is now a dedicated category called “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches,” so that someone looking for a “Just Chatting” stream doesn’t run into bathing suits.

As long as there are live women on a platform, people will have something to say about what they’re doing and wearing. Twitch’s clarification of its policies is a reminder that it’s up to the platform to set the record straight about who it is and isn’t accommodating.