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Fortnite star Tfue used a racial slur again, and Twitch won’t talk about it

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What Twitch decides to do with this case will define the future of the service

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Last night, Fortnite streamer Turner “Tfue” Tenney appeared to say a racial slur during a live broadcast of himself playing Minecraft, which is a clear violation of Twitch policy. In the clip, which the streamer has apparently deleted from his recorded videos, Tenney can be heard saying, “You guys fucking killed all the villagers, man. Y’all motherfuckers killed them niggas. You can suck my pee pee, man.”

Twitch declined to comment on Tenney’s use of the slur, which is explicitly against its community guidelines, saying only that it does not comment on individual streamers.

This isn’t the first time that Tenney has gotten in trouble for using a racial slur while streaming. Previously, he earned a temporary Twitch suspension for calling another player a “coon,” which is an older racial epithet that’s generally used to refer to black people in a derogatory way. (It’s racist!) Separately, Tenney was suspended after an unspecified incident where his chat was, in his brother’s words, “toxic” to another streamer. It’s unclear what happened. After he was unbanned, Tenney said, “I got banned on Twitch for just some stupid, stupid stuff that I did,” and he refused to elaborate further.

What’s different about this incident is Twitch’s three strikes rule: after two suspensions, the third is permanent. (From the company’s guidelines: “After two strikes, the next violation will result in an indefinite suspension, but some severe violations will result in an indefinite suspension on the first violation.”) It remains to be seen whether Twitch will take any actions against Tenney. He has nearly 7 million followers on the platform, which, according to Twitch Metrics, makes him the second-most-followed account on Twitch.

Regardless of what happens, Twitch’s action or inaction on this event will be telling. Lately, some streamers’ bad behavior has prompted the community to wonder whether larger channels get preferential treatment simply because they’re more important to the platform’s advertising ecosystem. Either way, with Tenney, Twitch has to decide whether it’s more important to enforce its rules — which, theoretically, apply to everyone — or to placate its biggest streamers when they screw up. It’s going to get ugly no matter what it chooses.