Twitch Walks Back Changes After Surge in Nudity: ‘We Went Too Far’

After just two days, livestreaming platform Twitch is reverting back to its previous rules banning “artistic” and “fictional” nudity, with CEO Dan Clancy writing Friday that some streamers took the newly loosened rules too far.

“Some streamers, in response to this update, created content that was in violation of our new policy. We’ve worked quickly to remove that content and issue channel enforcements,” Clancy said in a Twitch blog post.

“However, there also was a great deal of new content that was allowed under the updated policy. Much of the content created has been met with community concern. These are concerns we share,” Clancy added.

The new rules on nudity briefly established this week allowed streamers to broadcast any type of nudity as long as it was “artistic” or fictional—meaning, made by an artist. But some streamers quickly broadcast content that could be considered borderline pornographic, disturbing nude content, or fall under the category of what some would call “hentai” (aka anime-style pornography).

Twitch viewers posted screenshots of an “Art” category overrun with drawings of large genitals, breasts, and naked characters with explicit stream titles to match—or titles like “How is this allowed?!” Others, like esports organization Cloud9, cracked jokes over the lessened restrictions.

One Twitter user made a meme that suggests Twitch was effectively promoting porn through its new rules. And other Twitter users alleged that such “artistic” nude content was being “recommended” to users under 18 on the platform.

“Upon reflection, we have decided that we went too far with this change,” Clancy said in the Friday update. “Digital depictions of nudity present a unique challenge—AI can be used to create realistic images, and it can be hard to distinguish between digital art and photography.” 

With the rise of generative AI art tools like Midjourney this year, artificial intelligence has been used across the internet to generate depictions of nudity—depictions which can range from cartoons to photorealistic models to non-consensual deepfakes of real people.

Under Twitch’s more lax rules briefly established earlier this week, AI-generated “artistic” nude creations of other streamers could have proliferated without their consent, while technically following Twitch’s guidelines on artistic nudity. But a gray area was briefly created between art and reality, as Twitch’s Community Guidelines prohibit “deepfake intimate images of an identifiable person” more broadly.

Twitch, like TikTok, Twitter, and the rest of social media, relies on viewer attention, often dubbed the “attention economy,” to succeed. Over the years, a number of surprising, headline-generating “metas” or trends have emerged on Twitch, especially among female-identifying streamers, as part of an effort to stand out from the pack.

From hot tub streams to ear-licking ASMR trends, Twitch has, most recently, seen a “topless” trend. In it, creators appear as though streaming topless—but without showing their nipples.

Shortly after some “topless” Twitch streamers were banned, the platform issued a broad update on its sexual content policies, which allowed artistic and fictional nudity as well as behaviors like twerking and pole dancing—as long as it’s not happening within a strip club.

In October, Twitch executive Mary Kish told Decrypt that Twitch is the “safest” platform for creators compared to rivals like Kick—but Kick’s Community Guidelines similarly ban “pornography,” require 18+ content warnings when applicable, and prohibit any acts of “discrimination” or “hate speech.” 

Under Twitch’s Friday update, the platform only appears to be walking back its allowances on artistic and fictional nudity—Mature-rated games with nudity will still be allowed on the site.

Twitch has not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for additional comment.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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