Earlier this week, Twitch streamer and VTuber Shlily were banned for three days with no clear reason given. His story mirrors that of many other high-profile streamers who, due to Twitch’s policy of not explaining the reasons for bans, are left wondering what they did wrong.
“I think it’s absolutely crazy for you to sign a contract with this company, but they basically have the right to kick you off their platform without needing to tell you why specifically,” Shlily told me.
Shlily, who has about 20,000 subscribers and averages about 8,000 viewers a day, isn’t sure how much of her most recent VRChat streams, or any of her streams from the last few months, might have triggered the ban. She got an email from Twitch that simply said she broke the terms of service on a live stream or VOD.
According to Twitch’s suspension policy (opens in a new tab), it will issue warnings to streamers based on the type of violation, but can also suspend anyone immediately, even mid-stream in some cases. Twitch uses a three-notice system for DMCA notices, but Shlily says she’s only received one before, so it seems unlikely the issue is copyrighted material. I emailed Twitch about Shilily’s ban and didn’t get a response before posting this article.
Shlily’s broadcasts regularly include what she calls (opens in a new tab) “brother” and “lewd” humor, and have shown suggestive fan art. She is also a VTuber, which means that she exclusively represents herself as a 2D and 3D avatar. in its guidelines (opens in a new tab) for nudity and sexual content, Twitch says “augmented reality avatars” must abide by the same rules as everyone else. Shlily thinks her new VRChat model might be the problem.
Shilily’s new VRChat model, for which she says she paid around $8,000 and was “going to create future content based on it,” allows her to remove her outer layer of clothing and only show the tiny bikini underneath. It gives her a look similar to streamers who broadcast live from her pools or hot tubs. (opens in a new tab), but viewers suspect that the revealing outfit and her suggestive antics on one of her most recent broadcasts might have prompted the ban. The archive of the broadcast is not available, but Reddit user ReddishCat posted a clip (opens in a new tab) where you can see her dancing in the outfit while on the beach.
Shlily said it may not have been “obvious enough that we were on the beach despite the water and sand everywhere” and therefore “the bikini lever might have been against it.” [Twitch’s terms of service].”
She told me it could also be various things she talked about on the stream, including a joke about pegging or referring to PornHub as “orange YouTube,” which she says could make Twitch think she’s promoting NSFW content. But it is not yet clear if the rape was in one of her most recent broadcasts or in one of many others.
“I’m always under the impression that as long as you don’t do sensual or outright sexual things without context and just have fun and laugh and enjoy your time, you’ll be fine,” she said.
“IRL streamers can paint their fully nude bodies with nothing but their nipples covered, shower in string bikinis exposing their entire butts, rub body wash and bubble bath all over their bodies in a sensual way with each sub in a 4K the flow of counting viewers as they proceed to chat for hours sitting in a bathtub,” he said in his defense.
Shlily used Twitch’s ban appeal system, but was denied. She also opened a ticket, and that too was denied. “Not knowing what caused the ban makes it very difficult to avoid it in the future,” she said.
❌ Twitch partner “Shylily” has been banned! ❌https://t.co/qBDCTvE73W#twitch #ban #firstban #partner #twitchpartner 🔅August 15, 2022
The three-day ban, while brief compared to some of Twitch’s heavier punishments, has left Shlily locked out of her account, unable to view her Twitch partner contract, and restricted from streaming on YouTube as an alternative (per her contract). ). She says that her break will make her lose the hundreds of subscriptions that she expected to receive in that period, but that she will be fine.
“But I can very well imagine streamers barely making ends meet, with no savings to set aside, having a very difficult and frustrating time!” she said.
Shilily and the many other streamers who make a living on the platform are frustrated with Twitch’s lack of communication when it comes to abrupt suspensions. In May (opens in a new tab), the streaming site said it was looking to provide more context with the bans it sends, but has made no further announcements about implementing this policy. At the time, Twitch said that it stood by the accuracy of 99% of its suspension decisions.
In 2020, Dr. Disrespect was permanently banned for a reason he says Twitch never explained to him. His lawsuit against the platform failed (opens in a new tab) in March, when he posted a message on Twitter that read: “No party admits wrongdoing.” That same month, controversial Just Chatting streamer Destiny was banned indefinitely and Twitch didn’t give him any reason either. Although both streamers had offensive clips to point to, Twitch’s refusal to communicate means it never has to defend its decisions.
Clara “Keffals” Sorrenti, a trans streamer who was recently banned (opens in a new tab) on Twitch for 28 days, said she was reported en masse by users for planning to display and discuss examples of the harassment she receives. Her ban appeal was rejected by Twitch and the company did not respond.
Many see Twitch’s silence as intentional obfuscation so you can do whatever you want. As a result, bans on popular streamers, however brief, spark debates about what the violation might have been and whether or not the platform has double standards for different types of streams and streamers. Last year, a Twitch data breach revealed that it used to maintain a ‘do not ban’ list (opens in a new tab) from large streamers to avoid undue bans, so it’s clear the company was willing to selectively implement its rules when it wanted to.
As the streaming giant grows (opens in a new tab)—Twitch says more than 15 million new people will go live in 2021—there is a lot of pressure for the platform to better support the users who put it on top and prevent the spread of hate (opens in a new tab) towards marginalized members of their community.
Several of the biggest streamers, including LilyPichu, Myth, DrLupo, and TimTheTatman, have left Twitch to sign exclusivity deals with YouTube. While his absence hasn’t left much of a dent in Twitch’s streaming dominance, its most successful streamers don’t appear to be as committed to the platform as he probably would like.
Shlily will return to Twitch on Thursday, but will likely stay off VRChat. She posted a cheep (opens in a new tab) with the hashtag “#FreeLily” and a video that jokingly promises the beginning of her “seiso,” or pure, era, while playing a series of raunchy clips.
⚠️AD UNLOCKED⚠️Come witness my 6th era! https://t.co/Q3DH9CbWvq Aug 18 at 4:29pmAugust 17, 2022
“I really want Twitch to be a good place. I really do,” he said. “I enjoy the culture of Twitch much more than YouTube,” he said, but also feels that YouTube is “much safer” than Twitch, suggesting that this is why YouTube is able to attract heavy users to the platform.