Twitch thinks this emote is “sexual content”

It raises the issue of Twitch's wonky moderation practices.


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Emotes are once again taking center stage in a controversy involving online platforms and their treatment of creators and users. This time around it's the turn of Amazon's streaming platform Twitch, which has banned an emote uploaded by DansGaming, a streamer with some 800,000 followers.

The emote, “danPotty,” is a cartoon representation of the creator sitting on a toilet – without any sexual organs visible. However, what Twitch's censors saw in the image was “sexual content,” and the ban also means that DansGaming won't be able to add new emotes without moderators' approval for the next three months.

Dan made an announcement about the ban, explaining that emotes – sometimes referred to as “emojis on steroids” – represent an efficient way for followers to communicate with streamers in real-time.

Emotes are not only an important tool for both subscribers and creators but also represent an integral part of the appeal and identity of Twitch itself. Therefore, it's no wonder that the streaming giant has set a number of rules around them.

When DansGaming took to Twitter to announce the ban and express his disappointment – and his decision to temporarily shut down his stream – he criticized Twitch for enforcing those rules inconsistently.

While deciding that the imagery of a cartoon character sitting on a toilet was somehow “sexual,” Twitch is at the same time not banning many other emotes that actually and explicitly represent sexualized content, the streamer, and many commenters on Twitter remarked.

DansGaming was hopeful that his appeal of the strike would be successful, given his decade-long presence on Twitch during which he broke none of the platform's rule – and given the fact that the emote was actually not sexual in nature.

However, he quickly had cause to be disappointed again, as emotes artist Julia Cassian tweeted that the company informed her they stood by their original decision to ban “danPotty.”

Many other users agreed, urging Twitch to either enforce the rules around emotes fairly, or update them to reflect whatever the actual moderation policy may be.

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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