Amazon-owned Twitch has decided to suspend several accounts on the live-streaming platform after research detailed how pro-Kremlin propaganda had spread across the network.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Twitch said it would “ban harmful misinformation actors from using our service.”
But a report by the Tech Transparency Project details several reports spreading pro-Kremlin falsehoods, such as claims that the invasion was a “denazification” of Ukraine and a Russian “special operation.” Other streams lied about the establishment of “biolabs” in the war-torn country.
Twitch suspended several accounts cited in the report and investigated several others, a spokesman said after being presented with the findings on Wednesday.
“While we continue to see low levels of harmful misinformation on Twitch, as part of this policy we have blocked several channels, including some specifically dedicated to spreading misinformation related to the Ukraine crisis,” the spokesperson said.
Several of the accounts appeared to be monetized, meaning the account owner and Twitch shared revenue from advertising, said Katie Paul, TTP director.
“TTP’s findings reveal major gaps in Twitch’s policy enforcement at a time of severe Russian misinformation about the war in Ukraine,” the report said. “Amazon’s vast resources give it ample funds to better monitor Twitch, which is one of the most popular live streaming platforms today, reaching a huge audience of young people.”
The incident shows how difficult it has been for platforms to deal with the disinformation war being waged alongside the conflict on the ground in Ukraine, with material being created for western dissemination and coming from both Russia and supporters in other countries, notably the US, is posted.
One account, InfraredShow, was verified by Twitch, which allowed it to receive additional monetization benefits such as: B. Fees waived for paying out earnings from the website.
“Twitch deems this account worthy of becoming a part of their partnership program,” Paul said. “So much so, that Twitch is paying for the payouts for someone who has repeatedly streamed misinformation.”
The channel had nearly 20,000 followers. It was banned shortly after the company was contacted by the Financial Times on Wednesday night, as were three other companies cited in the TTP report.
Twitch declined to comment on why the specific channels were blocked to “protect the privacy of those involved,” the rep added.
Twitch, which was acquired by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million, announced its updated abuse policy on March 3. It told users that streamers who broadcast “one off” misinformation would not be banned, but that it would remove users who persistently violated its harmful behavior criteria.
Twitch’s statement echoed that of other major social networks trying to prevent the distribution of dangerous material on their sites.
InfraredShow’s programming regularly featured hour-long broadcasts by an unidentified man, who appeared to be American, repeating lines similar to those from the Kremlin. A watermark reading “VLADIMIR PUTIN IS GOOD” remained on the screen for a long time.
The channel was abruptly cut short after the FT used the stream’s chat function to solicit comment on TTP’s research claims.
Shortly after the ban, the stream was restarted on video-sharing site YouTube, which is owned by Google. YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.