On Sept. 4 at around 8 p.m. PT, a Chinese IRL streamer who goes by the name Kyo1984123 shot to the top of the Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches category on Twitch. But instead of streaming himself or another adult in his inflatable pool, for about 30 minutes of his 9-hour stream he was streaming three young children of around preschool age to an audience of 3000+ strangers.
While the streamer likely had innocent intentions behind the stream, considering he typically just streams his everyday life and his kids are a part of that, the fact that this kind of content is being featured on Twitch and in the Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches category raises some serious questions about Twitch’s approach to protecting children's privacy on their platform.
Twitch’s stance on minors
Twitch states in its terms of service that it strictly “prohibits nudity, sexual content, sexual violence, or sexual exploitation that involves minors, appears to involve minors, or depictions of minors, or content that encourages or promotes pedophilia.”
They define nudity as: “For all streamers, you must cover the area extending from your hips to the bottom of your pelvis and buttocks. For those who present as women, we ask that you cover your nipples” and say, “broadcasting nude or partially nude minors (as defined by the above rules) is always prohibited, regardless of context.”
When asked for comment, Twitch eventually told Inven Global that “every one of our user reports is reviewed by a skilled human moderator, and we take action in every instance where a breach of these Terms of Service and Community Guidelines is verified”, and referred us to said ToS.
At the time of writing, Twitch has neither suspended Kyo’s channel nor taken down the original video and it seems that Twitch — despite claiming to strictly prohibit partially nude minors in broadcasts — may actually allow streamers to broadcast children in swimming suits on their platform.
A(nother) dangerous gray area for Twitch
While the content in question wasn’t at all sexual in nature, it is still a potentially dangerous gray area for Twitch to leave the ability for young children to be broadcasted in limited clothing on their platform. Young children can neither provide informed consent to being streamed, nor perhaps understand what a Twitch broadcast is.
To make matters worse, Twitch has had a very inconsistent record on enforcing their rules when it comes to such gray areas. The ASMR and Hot Tub “metas” are examples of content that quickly became explicitly sexual in nature and prompted a response from Twitch.
In addition, Twitch’s relationship with minors is already fraught with potential issues. A Wired investigation carried out in 2020 found dozens of channels being operated by children under the age of 13. While this is a clear violation of Twitch’s terms of service, which require all individuals be at least 13 years or older to be on their platform, in compliance with the United States’ Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), it’s clear that children are still accessing their services, and, in Kyo’s case, even being broadcasted to the world.
All of this brings into question (once again) Twitch’s ability and commitment to protecting children’s privacy online. Either Kyo’s stream of his children was within the terms and service, in which case children are allowed to be streamed on Twitch to thousands of strangers; or this is against Twitch’s terms and service, and the company chose to not act, despite reports.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.