When faced with Twitch defamation, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to protect your rights and potential livelihood. Whether you are a Twitch streamer targeted by your peers or an individual whose reputation has been harmed by defamatory remarks during a live stream, this article will serve as your blueprint.
If you are being defamed on Twitch, it is important to take a structured and well-planned approach. We recommend taking the following steps:
- Familiarize yourself with Twitch’s Terms of Service (ToS) guidelines;
- Document and preserve all evidence of the defamation, including damages suffered;
- Report the user or channel for ToS violations;
- Adjust your social media and online privacy settings;
- Determine if you have a valid defamation claim;
- Send a cease and desist letter to the defamer;
- Determine who you can sue for the defamation; and
- File a defamation lawsuit to compel the removal of defamatory content or obtain damages.
At Minc Law, we have extensive experience assisting clients who have been defamed on social media platforms, including Twitch. From navigating social media platform reporting procedures and crafting a compelling story for removal to litigating hundreds of defamation cases across the U.S. and the globe, we know what it takes to combat social media defamation head-on.
In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on handling Twitch defamation, from initial identification and documentation of the incident to potential legal actions.
Why Twitch is a Popular Platform For Defamation
Twitch, a live streaming service primarily focusing on video games, has seen a meteoric rise since its launch in 2011. The platform initially carved its niche in video game live streams, esports competitions, and game-related broadcasts. However, its scope has broadened over the years to include various other forms of live entertainment like music broadcasts and creative content.
With over 2.5 million average viewers streaming concurrently at any given time and 7 million unique streamers, Twitch’s appeal extends beyond video gamers to include chess enthusiasts, music lovers, and hobbyists of countless other activities.
Unfortunately, its immense popularity, coupled with the unfiltered nature of live streaming, makes it a hotspot for potential defamation.
Defining Defamation on Twitch
Defamation refers to a false statement made to a third party that injures an individual’s or business’s reputation. Defamatory statements typically fall into two categories: libel and slander. Slander involves spoken communication directed at a third party, whereas libel refers to written communication published to third parties. Libel can also include pictures or videos shared through a particular medium, such as a social media platform.
The elements required to prove a defamation claim remain the same, regardless of whether the communication is considered slander or libel. However, it is crucial to ensure that the correct defamation action is brought when filing a lawsuit. If not, there is a risk that the case may be dismissed.
Is Defamation on Twitch Considered Libel or Slander?
Twitch presents a unique environment where both slander and libel can occur. The platform’s nature allows for real-time interactions between hosts and viewers through voice and text and the ability to save clips or highlights of the streams. Twitch also stores all content as video on demand (VoD), and many streamers republish their streams on YouTube or other platforms, leading to wider dissemination of potentially defamatory content.
Consider a scenario where a Twitch streamer wrongfully calls you a convicted felon during a live stream. In uttering the false words aloud, they commit slander. However, since Twitch streams are often recorded and made available for repeated viewing, the act can also be considered libel. Since the platform’s chat feature allows text-based interaction, posting a false statement within the chat could also be considered libel.
It is important to note that there are key differences between filing a libel and slander lawsuit that could impact the outcome of your case. A skilled internet defamation attorney can help you identify the most relevant type of defamation for your specific case.
Common Forms of Twitch Defamation
Defamation on Twitch, while often involving disputes between streamers, is not exclusive to content creators. Individuals seemingly unconnected to Twitch can also become targets of defamatory statements made by a streamer or participant in the chat. Defamatory content can appear during live streams, in chat messages, panel discussions, or in comments.
Most Twitch defamation cases involve allegations made during a live stream that another streamer is spreading false information or cheating. The live interaction format of Twitch allows for immediate and direct public responses, escalating these disputes and their potential for reputational harm.
The text chat feature can also be a source of defamation. Users often engage in real-time conversations in response to the live stream, making comments about various topics. While these chats primarily focus on the stream’s content, they can sometimes include defamatory comments about individuals unrelated to the stream or the public eye.
Originally a gaming platform, Twitch has seen defamation cases related to false cheating accusations, particularly within competitive esports, which often involve high stakes. Also, with a wide range of age groups in its user base, Twitch has witnessed serious allegations of grooming underage users. A recent example involved the popular streamer “Miranda Sings,” who faced grooming accusations based on her interactions on Twitch.
False Cheating Accusations
In this scenario, a viewer or another streamer might wrongly claim that a Twitch streamer is using cheats or hacks during a gameplay session. For example, they might allege that the streamer uses aimbot software in a first-person shooter game, even when the streamer is playing fairly. This kind of false accusation can lead to a loss of credibility and followers for the accused. It can also draw scrutiny from game developers.
Misrepresentation of Unlawful or Lewd Behavior
Another defamatory practice on Twitch involves falsely claiming that a streamer has participated in inappropriate or abusive behavior on or off the platform. For instance, an individual might claim that the streamer verbally abused other players during a private gaming session, even if no such event occurred. These claims can tarnish a streamer’s reputation, alienating viewers and potentially leading to punitive measures from Twitch itself.
Allegations of ToS Violations
Defamation can also occur when a user falsely accuses a streamer of violating Twitch’s Terms of Service (ToS). A typical example might involve a claim that the streamer has been view-botting, a practice that involves artificially inflating viewer numbers.
“Hateraiding” Other Creators’ Chats
“Hateraiding” other creators’ chats has become a popular tactic used by streamers embroiled in bitter feuds with one another. This form of harassment involves one Twitch creator encouraging their followers to enter (“raid”) another streamers’ chat to flood it with negative and malicious comments.
False Personal Information
False rumors or misinformation about a streamer’s personal life constitute another common form of defamation on Twitch. A viewer or fellow streamer might spread harmful rumors about another, such as alleging that the individual has a criminal record or has engaged in unlawful activities, even when there is no truth to these claims.
Impact of Defamation on Twitch
Defamation can have serious consequences that extend well beyond the digital sphere. For many Twitch content creators, their online presence is not just a hobby, but a career, making the effects of defamation particularly devastating.
A damaged online reputation can result in a loss of followers, impacting the reach and influence of the streamer. This decline in audience can have financial consequences, as many Twitch streamers rely on their viewer base for income through subscriptions, donations, and sponsorships.
Twitch defamation can also inflict significant emotional distress and impact the victim’s mental health. The public nature of defamatory statements can exacerbate feelings of humiliation and distress. In severe cases, defamation can even lead to harassment or threats from viewers, creating a hostile online environment that can be dangerous.
How to Deal with Twitch Defamation
Dealing with defamation on Twitch can be challenging and intimidating, especially when your reputation is at stake. However, Twitch users can effectively respond to defamation with the right knowledge and resources.
Familiarize Yourself with Twitch’s Community Guidelines
The first line of defense against Twitch defamation is to familiarize yourself with Twitch’s Community Guidelines. These guidelines outline the platform’s rules and expectations for user behavior, which include provisions against harassment, defamation, and intimidation.
Being aware of these guidelines can help users understand their rights on the platform and the action Twitch can take against those who violate these rules.
Stay Calm & Do Not Engage With the Defamer(s)
Being the target of defamation can evoke strong emotions. However, it is crucial to stay calm and refrain from engaging with the defamer.
When faced with Twitch defamation, your initial impulse might be to retaliate or refute the harmful statements. Yet, responding emotionally, especially in a public chat, can inadvertently escalate the situation and cause further harm to your online reputation.
It may also encourage the defamer to continue spreading false information. This is commonly referred to as the Streisand Effect, a phenomenon where an attempt to censor information unintentionally draws more attention.
Document & Preserve All Evidence of the Twitch Defamation
Before you take any further action, it is important to document and preserve all evidence of the defamatory content. This includes video content, chat messages, comments, and any other relevant information associated with the incident.
If the defamation occurs during a live stream, consider downloading or recording the video for future reference. Given the length of some Twitch streams, it is advisable to note timestamps of when the defamatory statements occurred. Also, capture screenshots of any defamatory statements made in the video’s description or within the chat.
Collect and screenshot any relevant information about the defamer’s profile, such as their screen name and associated email address. There are also advanced screen capture and preservation tools like Visualping or Page Vault, which can be helpful in preserving evidence.
You might also want to reach out to your moderators, as they might have access to additional evidence in the form of moderator logs. Remember gathering evidence is essential to build a strong case against the defamer.
Lastly, document the URL of the Twitch channel where the defamation occurred, and check the channel description or bio for any defamatory or malicious content. While Twitch saves videos and streams, we are unsure of their retention policy, making it crucial to preserve the evidence as soon as possible.
Document All Damages Suffered
It is equally important to document the damages you suffer due to the defamation. The damage could be in the form of lost subscribers, decreased revenue, or lost professional opportunities.
Keep detailed records of your subscriber count, viewership statistics, and income both before and after the defamatory statements were made. This can help illustrate the impact of the defamation on your Twitch channel.
Moreover, try to determine the reach of the defamatory content. This could include the number of people watching the stream when the defamation occurred, the number of people accessing the channel, or how far the defamatory content was shared or circulated online.
Do not forget about the potential emotional toll as well. Defamation can result in significant emotional distress, which may require medical intervention. If that is the case, keep records of medical appointments, bills, and any diagnoses or treatments related to the emotional distress.
Report the Defamation to Twitch For ToS Violations
Twitch has systems in place to handle user reports about inappropriate behavior or content violations, including defamation.
How to Report a User:
- Click on the user’s name
- Click the 3 vertical dots icon at the bottom right and then the Report option. This will open a reporting dialogue.
- Follow the report dialogue to select the most appropriate category for your report and write a detailed description of the violation in the Tell Us More field. If the correct category isn’t listed on the first page of the form, you can select Search to search for the reason category.
How to Report a Channel:
- Click the 3 vertical dots icon in the bottom right below the video player on the channel to report the live stream itself (using Report Live Stream) or other attributes of the user, such as their username or avatar (using Report Something Else).
After submitting a report, Twitch reviews the content and decides whether it violates their Community Guidelines. If an action is taken, you will also receive an email confirming that the action was taken.
Adjust Your Social Media Settings
After reporting the offender to Twitch, you should adjust your privacy settings on Twitch and other social media platforms to protect yourself further. Maximizing your privacy settings can limit the information about you that is publicly available and make it harder for individuals with bad intentions to access your content.
On Twitch, there are several ways you can adjust your privacy settings to protect yourself:
- For streamers, you can modify your chat permissions and moderator settings from your Creator Dashboard. From there, you can customize AutoMod Controls, Suspicious Users Controls, and Chat Options by navigating to Moderation Settings.
- All users can block Whispers from strangers. Simply click your profile picture in the top right, select Settings, and then navigate to the Security and Privacy tab.
- All users can enable two-factor authentication, block users, and adjust other security and privacy settings by visiting Profile Settings and selecting Security & Privacy.
Reach Out to an Experienced Internet Defamation Attorney
If you are facing severe defamation that is causing financial harm or disruption to your life, it might be time to contact an experienced internet defamation attorney.
An experienced internet defamation attorney can:
- Help you analyze your options,
- Provide legal guidance,
- Preserve your privacy,
- Work with law enforcement on your behalf, and
- Request removal of the defamatory content.
Taking Legal Action Against Twitch Defamation
While there are several ways to address defamation on Twitch, some situations require legal intervention. If defamation has led to significant damages or persistent harassment, it may be time to escalate the issue.
Determine if You Have a Valid Defamation Claim
Before considering legal action, it is crucial to understand whether you have a valid defamation claim. An experienced defamation attorney can help you determine whether your claim is viable before you commit to the time and expense of pursuing legal action.
The legal elements that constitute a claim for defamation vary by jurisdiction. However, generally, a plaintiff must prove the following elements to succeed in a libel or slander claim:
- The defendant made a false statement of fact about the plaintiff.
- The statement was communicated to a third party.
- The statement was made with at least negligence.
- The statement was unprivileged.
- The statement caused damage to the plaintiff’s reputation.
Send a Cease & Desist to the Defamer
A recommended first step and effective removal strategy before filing suit is to send a cease and desist or retraction demand letter. In some jurisdictions, sending a cease and desist letter is a required step before pursuing a lawsuit.
A cease and desist letter formally demands the defamer stop what they are doing and remove the harmful content. This is usually the first step an attorney takes when addressing a defamation case, as this could save you from the cost and stress of a lawsuit.
Can You Sue Twitch if You Are Defamed on Their Platform?
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) provides internet services providers, like Twitch, immunity from liability for content posted by their users. In simple terms, Section 230 treats platforms as distributors, not publishers, of third-party information.
However, this immunity is not absolute. There are certain narrow exceptions where the platform can be held liable, but they rarely apply to defamation cases.
Who You Can Sue For Twitch Defamation
Even though Twitch is generally protected from being sued for the content posted to its platform, the individuals who post defamatory content are not. As a result, your most effective legal recourse may be to sue the individual user who made the defamatory statement. For this reason, it is essential to determine the user’s true identity if they are using an alias or screen name.
Unmasking anonymous users can be a complex process, but it is a critical step to ensure you are directing your legal action toward the correct party. If you succeed in a defamation lawsuit, you can submit a court order to platforms like Twitch requesting the removal of the defamatory content.
File Suit Over Twitch Defamation
If you decide that filing a defamation lawsuit is the best course of action, you should first speak with an experienced defamation law firm. They are adept at handling the nuances of online defamation, which can include digital investigations and “John Doe” lawsuits to unmask anonymous users.
Internet defamation lawyers also have deep expertise in civil litigation, which can maximize your chances of obtaining damages or securing a court order. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to seek compensatory and, in some cases, punitive damages for the harm the defamer has caused.
Your attorney may also be able to obtain an injunction to prevent the defamer from making additional defamatory statements – offering an additional layer of protection for your reputation.
Explore Your Legal Options to Combat Twitch Defamation
We understand the devastating effects defamatory statements made on a live Twitch stream or in the comment section can have on your personal and professional life. Due to Twitch’s dynamic medium in which it delivers user-generated content, it may be difficult to know if you have a valid legal claim.
At Minc Law, we have extensive experience helping creators and other individuals navigate the ins and outs of social media defamation. We have removed over 25,000 pieces of defamatory content from the internet, identified anonymous perpetrators behind social media attacks, and helped thousands of individuals and businesses protect their online reputations.
“Attorney Dorrian Horsey at Minc Law represented me in a content removal effort and was successful. She was very open with me about the process, and helped me understand the approach that she took. She was great to work with and very supportive of my effort. Thank you!”
August 11, 2023
If you would like to explore your legal options to address Twitch defamation head-on, reach out to schedule your initial no-obligation consultation by calling (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.