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Sexual predators are using Twitch’s Clips feature to prey on underage streamers | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

Twitch creators use the platform’s Clips tool to share snippets of their streams across the web. But there’s another group finding uses for the feature: sexual predators. An analysis Bloomberg identified 83 Twitch Clips that depict sexualized content involving minors.

The 83 videos in question were pulled out of a larger sample of 1,100 Clips. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection reviewed the offending uploads and found that 34 of them depict young Twitch users (typically boys between ages five and 12) showing their genitalia to the camera. In some cases, the underage streamers were egged on by viewers before exposing themselves. The 34 Clips in that group have been viewed 2,700 times. In total, the 83 explicit Clips have raked in more than 10,000 views.

Sexual predation on Twitch has become an unfortunate reality ever since the Amazon-owned hub experienced a traffic boom during the pandemic. In 2020, Wired published an article discussing the tactics predators use to prey on underage streamers. Bloomberg expanded on those findings in 2022, documenting the growing scale of the problem. According to Bloomberg‘s findings, the number of child sexual abuse reports received by Twitch increased more than elevenfold between 2019 and 2021.

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In response to the 2022 Bloomberg report, Twitch added more resources to step up its enforcement of online grooming cases. At the same time, however, the platform has expanded the Clips tool in hopes of competing with short-form leaders like TikTok. Streamers are now encouraged to cross-post Clips on platforms like YouTube Shorts, and that strategy is cause for alarm at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “There’s a broader victimization that occurs once the initial livestream and grooming incident has happened because of the possibility of further distribution of this material,” said the Centre’s director, Stephen Sauer.

Twitch made significant cuts to its trust and safety teams as part of a 2023 round of layoffs, but its top exec told Bloomberg that his company is still committed to protecting its underage users. “Youth harm, anywhere online, is deeply disturbing,” said Twitch CEO Dan Clancy in a statement. “Even one instance is too many, and we take this issue extremely seriously.”

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection alerted Twitch about the 83 explicit Clips, and the prohibited videos have been removed. Clancy is not one of the tech CEOs who has been called to testify in front of the U.S. Congress later this month, but some of his colleagues will explain what they are doing to protect children online. If the results of that hearing fail to satisfy Congress, tech platforms could face tighter regulations moving forward.

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