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Leaked 'do not ban' list reveals how Twitch dealt with rule breakers

The list is old, but shows how some got special treatment

Among the many discoveries of this month's Twitch source code and data leak was a file called "do_not_ban_list." While not as black and white as the name suggest, the file sheds light on the otherwise opaque way Twitch has enforced its rules when streamers break them.

A report on The Washington Post by Nathan Grayson (RPS in peace) speaks to several anonymous Twitch staffers, who said that the list is around five years out of date. Twitch have since moved to a new system for managing streamers.

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Even at the time, however, it wasn't as simple as a list of streamers who could do whatever they wanted without risking a ban. Instead, the list was used to provide guidance to the ground level moderation team on what to do when they received user reports about certain streamers. Streamers who were a Twitch partner, for example, would be escalated to "a separate partner conduct team, which would issue warnings or make its own judgements," according to the Post.

Some streamers on the list did have specific exceptions that they had agreed with Twitch. For example, back in 2015, Twitch was still primarily a platform for streaming games, with non-gaming content technically not allowed. The 'do not ban list' noted several streams who were allowed to do non-gaming streams, however.

"It was a way to quickly put a banner up to the admins on duty so they wouldn’t just blindly ban another admin or a prominent staff [member] for something dumb," one former Twitch admin told The Washington Post. Twitch's CEO was listed alongside the note "do not ban for literally any reason," for example.

While not as simple as a list of streamers who were allowed to break the rules, the Twitch staffers who spoke to the Post did all talk about favouritism being supported within the system. "Twitch partners did get more leniency - [and] maybe stil do", said one.

Now, they say, there's more standardisation in how the rules are applied to streamers. "That doesn’t necessarily mean some aren’t given extra slack still, but it does mean that if they are, it’s not hidden from other staff," said one ex-Twitch employee.

There's more detail I've not mentioned here, and you should read the full story. It's an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of Twitch - a company which has historically had terrible communication about both how they apply rules and even what their rules are.

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