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Twitch streamers boycott the platform to raise awareness for marginalized voices

Black, brown and LGBTQ streamers on Twitch say they've been inundated with hate in recent months. Now, they're boycotting to raise awareness about what they've experienced.
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On the last day of July, Raven, a streamer on the platform Twitch, posted a video clip to Twitter of a recent stream she'd held, in which a mob of users spammed her chat with the same racist phrase over and over.

In recent months, that kind of infiltration, known on the platform as "hate raiding," began targeting Raven and other marginalized voices more and more frequently. Some of the harassment has included racial slurs, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and transphobic comments.

Raven, 31, who asked NBC News not to use her real name out of fear for her safety, became frustrated by Twitch's seeming indifference to the situation and the little recourse she had to take on the trolls.

So she and the streamers Lucia Everblack and ShineyPen, who also belong to marginalized groups, decided to do something about it. They organized "A Day Off Twitch" — a daylong boycott to raise awareness for minority groups on the platform, which takes place Wednesday.

"It's a very complex issue, and we understand that what we're doing may not resonate with others and they may not think that it's going to work," Raven said. "That hasn't stopped us."

As part of the boycott, streamers will abstain from using Twitch to show solidarity with marginalized creators and to raise attention to the harassment of streamers.

Raven said she began sharing the hashtag "#ADayOffTwitch" shortly after she began another tag, "#TwitchDoBetter," which was also about harassment. Twitch posted a multi-tweet threat Aug. 20 saying that no one should feel ostracized on the platform for who the are and that hateful spam attacks are the result of "highly motivated bad actors, and do not have a simple fix."

Twitch encouraged users to keep reporting the bad actors but said that even as it tries to build technology to root out those with malicious intent, new ways to harass creators are constantly being developed.

"We support our streamers' rights to express themselves and bring attention to important issues across our service. No one should have to experience malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for, and we are working hard on improved channel-level ban evasion detection and additional account improvements to help make Twitch a safer place for creators," a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement.

Everblack, who, like Raven, has experienced hate raids, said she sometimes tries to combat her trolls with humor, but she said it doesn't negate the toll the trolls take on her.

"It's tough. It wears people down. Even the toughest person, over time, succumbs to it," Everblack said.

Some trolls have doxxed Black and LGBTQ Twitch streamers or sent things like pizzas to their homes to assert power and instill fear.

With the harassment escalating, those participating in the boycott said they wanted to move the message off Twitch, where they're reaching only like-minded people, to other platforms, like Twitter, where they feel they could reach a larger audience.

"This isn't what we want to do as creators. ... We just want to play games. We want to talk to our friends," Everblack said. "It's just so hard to do that and to feel safe when the platform you use and that you love isn't showing that love back."