software twitch announces changes to improve the safety of young users
Software

Twitch Announces Changes to Improve the Safety of Young Users

Twitch child safety
Image by Marc Thele from Pixabay

Twitch, the popular online game streaming service, has announced a raft of new features to better protect young users from harm. The company, which is owned by Amazon, has now introduced mandatory phone verification.

There’s also now a new system in place designed to help track and terminate accounts belonging to those under 13. Plus, the company is also refining the moderation technology being used to monitor and review reports of child predation or illegal activity involving underage children.

Recently, Twitch has come under some pressure for not doing enough to tackle the prevalence of underage children using the service. As with any service which offers young people entertainment of this sort, it also attracts predators and unsavory characters.

The latest moves are intended to re-assure the public 

These latest moves are intended to reassure the public that they take their responsibilities seriously.

As well as the upgrades mentioned, the company has also updated the default privacy settings for the direct messaging service, Whispers. Certain risky search terms are now also blocked by default to prevent unauthorized access.

In line with many other companies, Twitch has begun the process of buying AI technology to help tackle the problem — for example, Spirit AI is a language processing system, which can detect and alert the security team about any suspicious text messages being sent on the platform.

Enhancing the Twitch Guides

These actions are targeted at grooming activities specifically and fit in with the platform’s overall program for tackling all forms of abuse or attempted abuse on the platform.

Language and visual-based cues are used, along with upskilling customer-facing staff, to detect and protect young users. As with many other services, there are also robust measures in place to help parents report suspicious activity, and they also have access to guides on what to do if they’re worried.

Bloomberg gives statistical insight into how pressing the problem is on the platform 

Much of this latest action has been spurred by a Bloomberg report released last September, which outlined ‘rampant child predation on Twitch’, and detailed incidents where over 250,000 apparent children were targeted by predators. Much of the criticism centered on the ease of sign-up, which gave underage children a fast route onto the platform.

Unlike other services such as YouTube and TikTok, which have put into place more stringent access requirements, Twitch was found to be significantly behind in implementing safeguards. Especially with regard to age verification and two-factor authentication.

The new moves announced this week, therefore, address these shortcomings at last.

Because the service’s moderation relies on user reports, one of the biggest problems facing the company is the sheer scale of monitoring 2.5 million hours of live content being streamed in 35 languages every day.