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Twitch sues streamers who flooded the Artifact category with porn

The circus came to Twitch last month when somebody noticed that the category dedicated to Valve’s Artifact card game was a ghost town—or, maybe more accurately, a void waiting to be filled. And fill it they did, with memes, porn, and more. Twitch fought back, killing streams and suspending troll accounts as quickly as it could, but the internet is persistent, and it took a while to rein things in.

Last week, Twitch launched the next phase of its defensive operations, which is really more of a counter-attack: It filed a lawsuit against the people who took part in the trolling for trademark infringement, fraud, breach of contract, and unauthorized use of its services.

“The safety of Twitch’s community is its top priority. For this reason, Twitch forbids obscene material as well as material depicting violence and threats. Its Terms of Service prohibit users from creating, uploading, or streaming any content that is unlawful, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, harassing, threatening, abusive, or otherwise objectionable,” the lawsuit states.

“Beginning on or about May 25, 2019, Defendants flooded the Twitch.tv directory for the game Artifact with dozens of videos that violated Twitch’s policies and terms. This included, for example, a video of the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attack, hard core pornography, copyrighted movies and television shows, and racist and misogynistic videos … Twitch took down the posts and banned the offending accounts, but the offensive video streams quickly reappeared using new accounts. It appears that Defendants use automated methods to create accounts and disseminate offensive material as well as to thwart Twitch’s safety mechanisms.”

The lawsuit goes on to state that Twitch users who ran across the offending content unintentionally “were understandably upset,” and some users “stopped or reduced” their use of Twitch as a result. Twitch was ultimately forced to take “the extremely disruptive step” of preventing new accounts from doing any streaming at all, and even that apparently wasn’t entirely successful. “In response, Defendants sought to evade these steps using old accounts as well as accounts purchased from other users,” the suit states.

Because Twitch doesn’t currently know who’s actually responsible for the violating streams, the lawsuit identifies the defendants as “John and Janes Does 1-100.” The first defendant, Doe 1, is described as “a person or entity responsible in whole or in part for the wrongful conduct alleged herein who has operated an account on the Twitch Services under a pseudonym.” Does 2-100 “ratified, endorsed, or was otherwise involved in the acts complained of, and have liability for such acts,” the suit states. Twitch will update the complaint if and when it learns the legal identities of those involved.

“We take these violations extremely seriously,” Twitch said in a statement. “We are pursuing litigation to identify these bad actors, and will take all appropriate actions to protect our community.”

Twitch is seeking a permanent (and legally enforceable) ban on everyone who took part in the TOS-violating streaming, restitution and damages, and legal fees.

Thanks, Dot Esports.