Twitch is cracking down on bots programmed to rig viewership on its platform. The game streaming site is taking legal action against seven well-known bot services.
Bots on Twitch can serve a variety of functions — with some even helping viewers find their favorite footage — but others are designed with the malicious intent of bloating view count and follower count and also rigging chat activity on the channels.
These practices may be "exploited by a small minority," says Matthew DiPietro, Twitch's senior vice president of marketing, but they have left "damaging effects" on the community.
How Fake Viewership 'Hurts' The Community
When a broadcaster gains traction, Twitch makes the partnership official. The broadcaster earns a profit from the size of its audience. The people behind Twitch believe this symbiosis serves to raise the quality of the content being produced.
Such a media partnership is not in the least bit a bad thing, until crooks come in and sell broadcasters fake viewership. In effect, channels that do offer better content are being robbed of opportunities to showcase their stuff. And this has compelled Twitch to let the hammer fall on the bad guys.
How Twitch Is Cracking Down On Bot Services
• The first step is for Twitch's own system to identify bogus viewers and kick them out of the platform. The site performs "regular maintenance and engineering" to make sure all the nuts and bolts of the system are tight. This is one action Twitch is "dedicated to continuing," all along tweaking and tightening the platform.
• The second step involves community support. Moderators and other site partners are tasked to "investigate" cases of artificially bloated viewership and bogus chat activity. These reports are handled individually.
• While the first two specific actions are managed internally, Twitch has also gone the extra mile of suing several of the most active bot makers.
The offer of viewbot sellers is obviously designed to dupe people into thinking a channel is really that popular among (ghost) followers.
"Ultimately though, the best way to stop viewbot sellers from profiting off of empty promises," DiPietro concludes, "is to not buy their services."
Viewbotting Works 'Like Steroids'
Purchasing fake followers in bulk and rigging chat activity only make a broadcaster look popular on the surface, but the lack of "real" followers will never ultimately contribute to the broadcaster's success, Twitch explains to its community. There's just no growth opportunity.
"It works like steroids for a channel — with all the negative side effects included. False viewer growth is not conducive to establishing a career in broadcasting," Twitch adds.
It's a win-lose situation, where only the viewbot seller profits.