Twitch has removed a comedic Spongebob Squarepants emote from the channel of SHiFT, a professional video game streamer who mostly streams Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, claiming that it violates Twitch’s policies around sexual content.
SHiFT often uploads Spongebob-themed custom emotes for his subscribers. The emote that Twitch took down is based on a classic “Ripped Pants” episode of Spongebob Squarepants where Spongebob repeatedly rips his pants. SHiFT’s version of the emote features Spongebob wearing a pair of ripped pants with the phrase “RIP” and was presumably used in the Twitch chat whenever an in-game character dies.
Twitch sent the following message to SHiFT when removing the emote:
“SexualContent: Disallowed content – Imagery of sexual content or nudity. i.e. “Gasm”-style emotes which contain sexualized torsos or bodily fluids. For more info, please refer to our Emoticon Guide.”
SHiFT responded to the removal of the emote by highlighting the absurdity of Twitch banning an iconic cartoon emote for sexual content while allowing “horny boobie emotes everywhere on this site.”
The creator of the emote has also criticized Twitch’s decision to block this emote for sexual content by saying that there’s nothing sexual about it and calling the decision “disrespectful to the creators who busted their ass working on it.”
Is really disrespectful to the creators who busted their ass working on it. I really hope that this can be resolved because shift already had a bout with twitch about the previous F emote. so I really hoped which can open up their eyes and get the stick out of their ass.
— Dottymouse (@ThusSqueakedDot) September 15, 2019
SHiFT says that his partner representative is looking into the situation and that he spoke to a staff member who said “the emote should be fine” but currently, it’s still banned on Twitch.
Update: my partner representative is looking into seeing what he can do about it, and I got word from another staff member that the emote should be fine. This is probably an instance of some clown in the verification department making a mistake, but I'll keep you posted. https://t.co/MAdz8dSI5t
— SHiFT 🗲 (@shiftposting) September 16, 2019
The removal of this Spongebob emote comes shortly after Twitch banned cosplay streamer Armouranth for just three days after flashing her genitals to viewers multiple times during a stream. To put the length of this ban in context, Minecraft streamer Anomaly was banned for 19 days after accidentally showing a Hitler Minecraft skin to viewers for less than two seconds. This ban was initially meant to be a 30-day ban but appeared to be reduced after an appeal.
The disparity between the length of these bans is an example of what many fans see as inconsistent application of the rules around sexual content on Twitch. Female streamers such as Armouranth are often given relatively minor punishments for breaking Twitch’s rules and showing nudity or sexually suggestive content. Meanwhile, male streamers are banned for infractions that, in the case of SHiFT, don’t appear to have actually broken any rules.
Twitch's guideline inconsistency is becoming worse than YouTube's monetization system. That's a crime in itself.
— Lonely tombstone. (@JustLemres) September 15, 2019
Twitch needs to be a little more uniform in the enforcement of their rules. @shiftposting had an emote based on a cartoon that aired on national television denied on the basis it was sexualizing Spongebob. So I made a song about the wacky situation. #Twitch #Spongebob pic.twitter.com/vr7KTY7cY8
— FrickinBagwell (@FrickinBagwell) September 16, 2019
Fortnite streamer Ninja, who was the most followed streamer on Twitch before moving to Microsoft-owned streaming service Mixer, also recently called out Twitch for recommending porn on his Twitch channel and said that he was “disgusted” at Twitch’s move.
Update – September 25, 2019: The SpongeBob Squarepants emote was approved after SHiFT made the underwear transparent.
After trying to figure out what could possibly be "sexual" about it for 10 days while begging for Twitch to give me answers, shiftRIP has finally been verified after…
making the underwear transparent
(I never got an answer from Twitch either) pic.twitter.com/RHUtR0RLQg
— SHiFT 🗲 (@shiftposting) September 25, 2019