Updated Jan 5, 2024 - Technology

Report: Twitch feature is used to record and share child abuse

The Twitch logo on a smartphone place on a laptop.

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A feature offered by Twitch, the Amazon-owned live video streaming platform that's popular with teens and kids, is being used by predators to record and share child sexual abuse content, per a Bloomberg News analysis.

The big picture: The investigation reveals another way predators have used evolving media and technology to sexually exploit children and teens.

How it works: Twitch's "clips" feature allows users to capture seconds-long live moments into short videos that can be edited and shared.

  • The Bloomberg analysis of 1,100 clips on Twitch found at least 83 that contained sexualized content involving minors.
  • Bloomberg's revelation comes as Twitch has been testing a TikTok-like, short-form content feed that would algorithmically suggest clips from Twitch creators to users, the Verge reports.
  • In addition to the clips feed, the company has been working to make it easier for creators to export clips onto other social media platforms, like TikTok.

Details: The material was reviewed by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which found that 34 depict children showing their genitalia to the camera.

  • The children, who were primarily boys between 5 and 12 years old, often did so while following requests from viewers during a livestream, according to Bloomberg.
  • The Centre found that those 34 clips had been viewed 2,700 times.
  • Another 49 videos contained footage of children being sexualized, such as them revealing body parts or being exposed to grooming attempts.
  • Those explicit videos had been watched 7,300 times.

What they're saying: "Youth harm, anywhere online, is unacceptable, and we take this issue extremely seriously. We've invested heavily in enforcement tooling and preventative measures, and will continue to do so," Twitch told Axios in a statement.

Yes, but: People familiar with the company's safety protocols anonymously told Bloomberg that the clips feature remains the least moderated portion of the platform.

  • Twitch removed the clips once Bloomberg flagged the content for the company, but through online extensions, users can download clips.
  • The explicit content may have been downloaded and could be uploaded to other parts of the internet or on the dark web in the future, meaning victims could be revictimized months or years after the footage was captured.

Zoom out: Twitch isn't alone in failing to moderate sexually explicit content involving minors, as it's been seen on every major social media platform in recent years.

Go deeper: New Mexico sues Meta alleging child sexual abuse protection failures

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Twitch.

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