After months of combating a tidal wave of harassment campaigns targeting marginalized streamers, Twitch has filed a suit against two alleged “hate raiders.”
First reported by WIRED, the suit, filed yesterday in US Federal Court, names two defendants, CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose, and alleges the two were responsible in part for the rash of “hate raids” that have plagued Twitch since the beginning of August. In the lawsuit, Twitch said that:
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. CruzzControl has admitted to using bots to flood Twitch channels with harassing content. They have also demonstrated how the bots work so others can use similar methods to accomplish hate raids. Twitch has also linked CreatineOverdose directly to hate raids. For example, on August 15th, 2021, Defendant CreatineOverdose used their bot software to demonstrate how it could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic descriptions of violence against minorities, and claims that the hate raiders are the “K K K.”
CreatineOverdose was one of the first accounts identified by streamers as being responsible for the hate raids, and there is at least one incident in which CreatineOverdose admitted to being a perpetrator in a streamer’s chat.
The suit does not identify either defendant beyond their Twitch usernames but does say that both reside in Europe.
Hate raids happen when malicious actors weaponize bots and the raid feature to spam streamers’ chats with racist, transphobic, and homophobic messages. Hate raids have happened on the platform for a while, but incidents have recently exploded uncontrollably with Black, brown, queer, and trans streamers suffering the majority of attacks. In response, streamers and Twitch community members created their own resources to combat hate raids while also vocally criticizing Twitch for not doing more or acting swiftly enough to protect its users.
On September 1st, streamer ShineyPen organized A Day Off Twitch, which asked users to not stream or watch Twitch for a day in order to bring attention to the problem. Twitch responded to the calls for action with several updates to its safety features and a promise that more action was forthcoming. This suit is part of that action. A Twitch spokesperson said:
Yesterday, Twitch filed a complaint in U. S. Federal Court against individuals involved in the recent chat-based attacks against marginalized streamers. The malicious actors involved have been highly motivated in breaking our Terms of Service, creating new waves of fake bot accounts designed to harass Creators even as we continually update our sitewide protections against their rapidly evolving behaviors. While we have identified and banned thousands of accounts over the past weeks, these actors continue to work hard on creative ways to circumvent our improvements, and show no intention of stopping. 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 behaviors to other services, and help put an end to these vile attacks against members of our community.
This Complaint is by no means the only action we’ve taken to address targeted attacks, nor will it be the last. Our teams have been working around the clock to update our proactive detection systems, address new behaviors as they emerge, and finalize new proactive, channel-level safety tools that we’ve been developing for months. Hate and harassment have no place on Twitch, and we know we have a lot more work to do–but we hope that these combined actions will help reduce the immediate and unacceptable harm that targeted attacks have been inflicting on our community.
While hate raids are still happening on Twitch, affected users do see this suit positively. Lucia Everblack, one of the organizers of #ADayOffTwitch, thinks this is a good step. “It obviously doesn’t address the larger issues about how this still continues to happen but does send a message that the people doing it can be found.”
Another streamer who started the Hate Raid Response website — a place where streamers can utilize and share tools, programs, and tips on how to prevent or stop hate raids — said, “This is a step in the right direction and for the gaming community at large: accountability. Nothing on the internet is actually anonymous and there are real life consequences to the things you say and do.”