Twitch continues to deal with an ongoing crisis revolving around harassment and abuse of its content creators and users. Twitch has been working to meet the moment, accelerating efforts to address criticism and offering tools streamers can use to safeguard their channels. These tools are, of course, limited in their usefulness, but even small steps forward will protect some. The latest example of Twitch’s work is what it’s branded as Shared Ban Info.
Over the past several years, in response to increased abuse and harassment on Twitch, streamers have begun sharing their lists of banned accounts with each other. This is a tedious, slow, and unreliable option, but targeted users often have little other recourse. Twitch is now officially supporting this effort with functionality allowing streamers to share their lists of banned accounts with each other. Once shared, Twitch channels‘ lists of banned users will grow to include those banned by the shared channel.
There are, unfortunately, significant limitations to the Shared Ban Info feature on Twitch at the moment. To start, ban info cannot yet be shared widespread. All Twitch shared ban lists require two-party confirmation, so one Twitch channel has to request access to another channel’s list and then the recipient has to accept. Further, there is a cap on how many channels any Twitch account can share their ban list with. That cap is currently 30, which means many users will be left out of communities sharing ban information with each other.
Twitch users do have some flexibility in how they use other channels’ ban information. Instead of automatically banning all user from a shared list, they can instead be set to “Restricted.” Restricted users will be flagged in mod chat, so Twitch moderators can track suspicious accounts. Ban list sharing can, of course, also be ended by either party at any time. That in itself is a frightening prospect for some, who may come to rely on shared lists for their own well-being.
Requests for expanded features in the Shared Ban Info update are already being made within the Twitch streaming community. Publicly shared ban lists with no caps are obviously a major priority for many users. Tiered ban flagging is also an odd new request, so channels can flag certain bans as jokes or less serious so that they aren’t caught in shared ban lists.
Overall, while any additional tool will be embraced by Twitch streamers and put into use immediately, there are some questions regarding the broader usefulness of this very limited feature. Twitch’s own policies and technology are restricting the practicality of this feature. It has to protect the personal information of banned users, and unlimited ban list sharing may be too much for Twitch’s server infrastructure. Regardless, Twitch will hopefully take this criticism and continue to improve on its services.