Twitch has introduced a new update to its settings menu that finally prevents banned and blocked users from viewing livestreams, a feature that some may be surprised to learn didn’t already exist.
According to Twitch reporters Lowco and Zach Bussey, streamers can toggle the setting on or off in their creator tools. As GameSpot purports, only a handful of streamers have access to this new feature right now, but the toggle should be rolling out to everyone on the platform sometime in September.
The feature appears to work instantaneously. If a chatter gets banned mid-stream, they’ll immediately be blocked from returning to the broadcast. Unfortunately, this toggle doesn’t stop users from watching videos-on-demand (VODs), archived livestreams that stay on channels from seven to 60 days (depending on whether you’re an affiliate, partner, or regular streamer), though Lowco states that this is temporary for now.
This is great news as streamers’ chats are regularly inundated with harassment. As former Kotaku staffer Nathan Grayson reported in January 2019, content creators on the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform were frequently stalked by viewers who lurked in the chat despite being banned. While Twitch hadn’t said anything publicly at the time, the streamer behind the nonprofit I Need Diverse Games, Tanya DePass, who was frequently harassed by someone even after she banned them, said that after her meeting with the company, she wound up with more questions than answers.
“No one could really answer why this guy still had a channel,” DePass told Kotaku in 2019. “[This person] was just skirting the line of what’s actionable.”
For its part, although it was four years later, Twitch did announce that it improved its artificial intelligence tools to detect bad actors—griefers, groomers, and the like—and bar them from using the platform in any capacity.
“Keeping banned users off Twitch, particularly those who have violated our youth safety policies, is another priority for us,” the company wrote in July 2023. “We recently updated our machine learning tools to more easily identify and remove banned users who’ve created new accounts.”
While these safety updates were primarily centered around protecting youth, particularly after Bloomberg reporter Cecilia D’Anastasio blew the lid on thousands of accounts preying on kids in 2022, the September update attempts to make good on the promise of “keeping banned users off Twitch.” Will it be enough? That’s anyone’s guess.
In an email to Kotaku, a Twitch representative said the new feature will even interrupt playback. So, if a user is banned mid-stream, not only would they be unable to return to the broadcast, the livestream cut out on their end. This is a key capability that puts the community first.
“Our approach to safety is community-first, and the Blocked Playback feature is a direct result of input from our community,” the representative said. “This is by no means an end-state product. We’ll continue to gather feedback and make improvements where needed.”