A Human Rights Impact Assessment of Twitch

April 18, 2023
  • Dunstan Allison-Hope portrait

    Dunstan Allison-Hope

    Senior Advisor, BSR

  • Lindsey Andersen portrait

    Lindsey Andersen

    Associate Director, Human Rights, BSR

  • Hannah Darnton portrait

    Hannah Darnton

    Director, Technology and Human Rights, BSR

  • Faraz Ansari portrait

    Faraz Ansari

    Associate, Technology Sectors, BSR

Key Points

  • BSR partnered with Twitch to undertake a human rights assessment of its service.
  • The assessment focused on service policy, partnerships, and impacts.
  • BSR’s Human Rights team highlights three key points from the assessment.

From late 2021 to mid-2022, BSR and Twitch undertook a human rights assessment of Twitch, an interactive live streaming service for content spanning gaming, entertainment, sports, music, and more. Today, we are pleased to publish the final report in full.

The goal of the assessment was to identify and prioritize Twitch’s human rights risks and make recommendations for actions to address these risks, including via collaboration with other organizations. BSR and Twitch wish to thank all Twitch employees, rightsholders, and stakeholders who participated in this assessment.

Consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, this assessment is based on risks to people (i.e., risks to rightsholders) rather than risks to the business (i.e., risks to enterprise value creation). This people-oriented approach enables a meaningful human rights program and a sophisticated approach to addressing business risks.

The assessment focuses on human rights most relevant to Twitch service policy, partnerships, and impacts, rather than Twitch’s broader operations and supply chain. This was agreed with Twitch at the outset given the likely greater salience of these human rights impacts and the increasing stakeholder interest in them. Off-service harassment issues are important but were not in scope for this assessment.

BSR would like to emphasize the following three points alongside the assessment:

  1. This is an assessment, not an audit. The value of this assessment is to consider human rights risks that may emerge or grow over time as Twitch evolves, such as content and users that extend beyond the gaming community or Twitch becoming more popular in more locations, cultures, and languages. The assessment makes 24 recommendations for how risks may be addressed across content policy, implementation of content policy, product development, system-wide approaches, and tracking and transparency. While understanding how Twitch is used today was hugely important, our primary focus was on preparing Twitch for the future.
  2. System-wide approaches are important. Many of Twitch’s human rights risks (such as policy-violating live streamed content being recorded and shared elsewhere) are beyond the ability of Twitch to address alone, and multi-stakeholder efforts offer important opportunities to collaborate with others. Developing moderation tools and approaches that address live streaming risk is one area where Twitch can usefully collaborate with others, including via existing multi-company and multi-stakeholder efforts.
  3. Live streaming presents content policy dilemmas that would benefit from further dialogue with stakeholders and experts. Examples include the privacy rights of those incidentally captured in live streaming, the live streaming of major events (such as protests, conflict, and other gatherings) where violating content may exist in the context of otherwise valuable streaming, and content policy enforcement challenges with live streaming, such as the limited reliability of tools for automated detection of potentially violating content. Community moderators play an essential role in identifying potentially violating content on chat and in livestreams, and they will benefit from resources, training, and investment that include human rights priorities, such as on transphobia, gender, and hate speech. 

Taking a human rights-based approach consistent with the UNGPs will help social media companies address the content policy challenges of today and tomorrow. We hope the assessment provides this foundation for Twitch.

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