Twitch Takes Its Trolls to Court

Twitch Takes Its Trolls to Court
Photo: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP, Getty Images

In an attempt to fight a recent deluge of hateful and bigoted content on its platform, Twitch has opted for a new tactic in its war on persistent trolls: taking them to court.

A new lawsuit, filed on Thursday by the video game streaming giant in the U.S. District Court in Northern California, takes aim at two specific users, “Cruzzcontrol” and “CreatineOverdose,” which the company accuses of persistently flooding its platform with “racist, sexist, and homophobic language and content.”

The accused are what is known as “hate raiders” — a term you’ve probably never heard of. “Hate raids” apparently involve anonymous users deploying automated bot armies to harass and intimidate streamers, often flooding the victim’s comment section with bigoted, racist, or overall nasty content. Such raids often target “streamers from marginalised groups,” the company’s recent lawsuit states.

Like a lot of streaming platforms, Twitch has had ongoing issues with trolls and vitriol, though this problem has apparently gotten worse lately. In August, following the emergence of a hashtag campaign that urged the platform to crack down on hateful content, the company announced it would be rolling out certain new features aimed at fixing the problem. Those actions have included banning thousands of problematic accounts and implementing new chat filters to protect streamers.

However, none of those methods has stopped the subjects of the new lawsuit.

“They evaded Twitch’s bans by creating new, alternate Twitch accounts, and continually altering their self-described ‘hate raid code’ to avoid detection and suspension by Twitch,” the suit reads, in reference to “Cruzzcontrol,” a user based in the Netherlands, and “CreatineOverdose,” who apparently hails from Vienna, Austria.

Both trolls have previously been banned by the company, but apparently snuck back onto the platform multiple times using new accounts. Because the accounts were created anonymously, the exact identities of the hate raiders has remained unknown, adding to the problem of permanently expunging them from the platform. What is known about them is that they have persistently sought to unsettle users via various forms of automated harassment.

“CruzzControl is responsible for nearly 3,000 bot accounts associated with hate raids. Bots developed and deployed by CruzzControl have been linked to various hate raid events, including those targeting black and LGBTQIA+ streamers with racist, homophobic, sexist, and other harassing content,” the lawsuit states.

Creatine, meanwhile, is accused of similar conduct and is said to have eluded permanent banning via an ever-shifting number of aliases and accounts, including “but not limited to CreatineOverdose, CreatineBanEvades, CreatineReturns, and CreatineReported,” the suit states.

It’s somewhat unclear how effective the lawsuit can really be, considering the fact that Twitch doesn’t even really know who Cruzz and Creatine are. However, as a signal to its users that it takes the harassment seriously, the company is surely making a statement about its commitment to protecting them from the web’s worst.

“We hope this Complaint will shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks and the tools that they exploit, dissuade them from taking similar behaviours to other services, and help put an end to these vile attacks against members of our community,” the company told Wired in a statement.