- Troubling data shows a rise in child predators using Twitch to groom children
- Children under 13 are not allowed to stream on the platform, but there is no way to stop them
- Twitch says it’s working on new tools to detect and remove child streamers and predators
The ease of streaming on twitch has led to many children using the platform, which facilitates child predators to solicit them, a Bloomberg report says.
Child Predators Use Twitch
The advent of the Internet more than three decades ago has led to an unprecedented way of communicating. With the rise of social media and platforms like Twitch, it has become much easier for everyone, even children, to reach out to a global audience.
However, the ease at which this can be done also poses several big negatives. One serious problem with the ease of access of Twitch, in particular, was linked with a supposed rise in child predation via users tracking when underage children go live on the platform.
A recent report from Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio states that almost 2 000 users on Twitch have been systematically finding and following primarily children recording themselves over the past two years. D’Anastasio quotes an independent researcher, according to whom alleged predators have targeted over 279 000 children, with “hundreds” of the accounts following more than 1 000 supposed children.
The researcher adds that many of the supposed predatory accounts exhibit behavior typical of grooming practices. These include feigning interest with innocuous questions that lead to suggestive and inappropriate requests. Other users threaten they will leave the chat if these demands are not fulfilled.
What Has Twitch Done about This?
The Amazon-owned platform does not allow children under the age of 13 to stream. However, we all know that warning signs such as these have little effect. Furthermore, a new Twitch user can begin livestreaming right away via a phone, unlike other streaming platforms like YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook. This makes it even easier for children to start streaming.
From 2019 to 2021, reports of apparent child sexual abuse skyrocketed by 1 125% on Twitch. The company recognized this and said it has “quadrupled the size of its law enforcement response team”. Twitch had also started working with both the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Tech Coalition.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Twitch said that it is working on the development of numerous updates to detect and remove both child streamers and child predators. chief product officer Tom Verrilli acknowledged that the troubling data shows that “[Twitch] are not offering the level of protection we strive for yet — which is deeply upsetting.”
Yet, whatever tools and algorithms the company develops, they will not substitute good parenting and education on the potential dangers one might face on the Internet.