Why Twitch banning Donald Trump isn’t a big deal

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Video-streaming service Twitch on Monday became the latest social platform to crack down on posts by President Trump and his campaign. The only difference? The suspension of Trump’s Twitch account will change relatively little.

The service, which is popular among video gamers, said that it had temporarily banned Trump’s account on Monday for posting hateful comments and had also removed the “offending content.”

“Like anyone else, politicians on Twitch must adhere to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines,” Twitch said in a statement. “We do not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content and will take action on content reported to us that violates our rules.”

But Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, declined to comment on how long Trump’s suspension would last. It also declined to say how many people actually watched Trump’s streams on the service, which typically features video gamers competing against each other. 

Since 2019, Trump’s account has been used to live broadcast campaign rallies and rerun older rallies, Twitch said.

The news comes as social media companies like Twitter and Facebook confront rising scrutiny about hate speech and misinformation on their services. Twitter was the first to crack down, flagging and obscuring a handful of Trump’s tweets that violated its rules. Facebook, for a while, took a more hands-off approach, but on Friday said it had created new rules to hold politicians more accountable for what they said on the service.

Facebook’s decision to leave Trump’s posts untouched has spurred internal unrest and, most recently, an ad boycott by dozens of large customers. Big name brands such as Adidas, Levi’s, Honda, and Hershey’s have all joined that campaign, called #StopHateForProfit, to pressure Facebook into doing more to police hate speech. 

Twitch cited two posts by Trump that broke the rules. The first was a rebroadcast of Trump’s 2015 campaign kickoff, during which he said people coming from Mexico were “bringing drugs” and were “rapists.” Another video included footage from Trump’s recent rally in Tulsa, during which he referred to the break-in of a young woman’s home, calling the perpetrator a “very tough hombre.”

Twitch has a “zero-tolerance” policy for hateful conduct, which prohibits discrimination and harassment of others based on characteristics including race, religion, gender, age, and sexual orientation. The company’s rules say that it will “consider a number of factors to determine the intent and context of any reported hateful content” and that enforcement actions could include “indefinite suspension.”  

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