The News: Streaming platform Twitch is once again at the center of attention as it rolls back its update regarding artistic nudity. This comes after several streamers on the platform—bad actors and articulate creators alike—receive bans for either drawing depictions of nudity and sexual content or being close to bare on stream.
Twitch CEO Dan Clancy penned on the Twitch Safety website that "some streamers, in response to this update, created content that was in violation of our new policy."
They recognize that the updated policy brought in loopholes shocking those who are yet to be made aware about the said policy: "However, there also was a great deal of new content that was allowed under the updated policy. Much of the content created has been met with community concern. These are concerns we share.
Upon reflection, we have decided that we went too far with this change. Digital depictions of nudity present a unique challenge–AI can be used to create realistic images, and it can be hard to distinguish between digital art and photography."
Clancy made it clear that nudity, unless it's from mature-rated games, is no longer allowed on Twitch.
Series of Events Leading to the Rollback
Prior Feedback from Artists and Creatives
Clancy wrote in the Twitch Safety post mentioned earlier that they received feedback from artists that their content policies were limiting. The feedback, either sent through UserVoice or in conversations, paved the way to discuss this topic.
The Metas Which Challenged Twitch TOS
In 2021, several streamers brought in the controversial 'hot tub meta' which led to the creation of a separate ‘Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches’ category.
Last weekend, a new 'topless meta' emerged with streamer Morgpie as its central figure, showing herself seemingly without any clothing on top. She was banned three days after her stream.
- Morgpie clarified later on that she was indeed wearing clothes, asserting she did not violate Twitch Terms of Service. In her interview with Dexerto, she said that Twitch "needs to ban all mature content, or make it more apparent that Twitch is for adults."
- Following Morgpie's ban and the confusion the topless meta has brought to the community, Twitch implemented their streamlined policy on December 13.
What was the update?
- This update allowed certain content to be allowed provided they have Content Classification Labels applied on stream, such as fictionalized (drawn, animated or sculptured) fully exposed sensitive areas regardless of gender.
- Erotic dances such as pole dancing and twerking were allowed in the said update.
- The policy was made clear to accommodate artists who want more freedom in their artistic expression as they stream.
What happened when the update was applied?
Content creators—VTubers included—tested the new policy on stream either through their application of artistic nudity or through near-close exposure of sensitive body parts.
- By this time, streams of artistic nudity dominate the Art category page.
- Some VTubers are already warning about the updated policy on Twitter/X, saying that they could get themselves in trouble by not understanding the updated rules in full.
A massive wave of bans was handed to a lot of creators afterwards, only to be unbanned days after.
VTubers React to Policy Rollback
French illustrator and VTuber Saruei has reacted to the rollback after being banned wrongly, asking the platform to consider taking measures and still allow artistic nudity without sensitive parts being shown.
I got banned wrongly under your new policy for drawing a nude character without any visible genitalia. This is your own responsibility for not thinking through before establishing a new TOS and it is incredibly unfair to a lot of artists who fell into the same situation as…— Saruei 💥 (@Saruei_) December 15, 2023
Illustrator and The Daily Dose merch creator Emi also asks Twitch to expand on what can be considered artistic nudity.
also in the process of coloring and drawing clothes,sometimes before those steps, it may look a nude form sketch or you may be coloring the skin first when it is supposed to be clothed in the end, so you need to take this into account for art for clarity.— emi エミ⌛️🦊 (@keyokku) December 15, 2023
Artist and VTuber Alphena also asks Twitch to give equal punishment to bad actors, specifically those who are not artists, who abused the Art tag.
If you're banning any artists from drawing mildly suggestive things, please give an equal amount of punishment for content creators that are NOT ARTISTS and are taking advantage of the art/just chatting category to push the line of how lewd they can get without going to CB. https://t.co/sPeyK77qS6— Alphena 🌌 Void Witch VTuber (@AlphenaVT) December 15, 2023
Sidenote: Is the Enforcement of Such Policies Hard to Implement?
Twitch defined in their Safety page which acts are considered or not regarding nudity and sexual behavior, but most are still hung up as to how bans regarding these are enforced.
This is a concern even in the past—Justice Potter Stewart in 'Jacobellis v. Ohio' (1964) coined the phrase 'I know it when I see it', creating the standard that all speech is protected except for hard-core pornography.
'Memoirs v. Massachusetts' (1966) improved on this phrase to define anything patently offensive, appealing to prurient (lustful) interest, and of no redeeming social value. 'Miller v. California' (1973) further improved on this by establishing the three-criteria Miller test.