For much of the last month and a half, Twitch has fought a losing battle against a phenomenon called “hate raids.” These attacks see malicious individuals use an army of bots to spam a streamer’s chat with hateful language, and almost always they target creators from marginalized communities. This week, Twitch filed a suit against some of those involved in the harassment campaigns.
The legal action comes after a variety of Twitch streamers stepped away from the platform on September 1st in protest of the company’s ineffective handling of the situation. The suit, first spotted by Wired, only names two defendants: CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose. Twitch does not identify the two individuals beyond their usernames but notes it believes they’re both based out of Europe.
In the complaint, Twitch alleges CruzzControl is responsible for a network of approximately 3,000 bots that have been involved in hate raids against streamers in the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities. In addition to overwhelming those channels with racist, homophobic and sexist spam, the company says CruzzControl has shown how the bots work so that others can deploy them toward a similar end. Of CreatineOverdose, the company alleges it has directly linked them to several incidents, including one August 15th episode in which they claimed they were a member of the “K K K.”
“We hope this complaint will shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks and the tools that they exploit, dissuade them from taking similar behaviors to other services, and help put an end to these vile attacks against members of our community,” a spokesperson for Twitch told Wired.
The company told The Verge the lawsuit is only one part of the response it has planned to hate raids, with more platform-level action forthcoming. “Our teams have been working around the clock to update our proactive detection systems, address new behaviors as they emerge, and finalize new proactive, channel-level safety tools that we’ve been developing for months,” a Twitch spokesperson said.
While the legal action has yet to stop hate raids from occurring, some of those most affected by them say it’s a step in the right direction for the company. “I feel hopeful,” Raven, a streamer whose Twitch handle is RekItRaven, told Wired. “The people who are behind this need to be held accountable for their actions. They've terrorized hundreds if not thousands of people. If this were to happen in a physical location we'd expect the same. It shouldn't be any different online.”