Twitch 'Do Not Ban' List Protected Prominent Streamers

Certain streamers received "do not ban" designations in an earlier iteration of Twitch.
Certain streamers received "do not ban" designations in an earlier iteration of Twitch. / Twitch, Amazon Inc./VoltaxImages

A list of streamers exempt from being banned has been found in the massive Twitch leak that took place earlier this month, raising questions about the site's uneven use of moderation.

Twitch has frequently struggled with clarity around its moderating decisions, with many users complaining that top streamers received preferential treatment because of their ability to draw viewers, and therefore revenue, to Twitch. This list inflamed those issues anew, but there are important caveats.

The first is that the list, as it appears in the leak, is five years old, meaning many of the names on it may no longer be protected, or that new ones have risen to take their places.

The second is that the list wasn't used exclusively to protect major streamers. When used in conjunction with Better Desk, an old method for Twitch administrators to investigate reports of bad behavior, the list helped Twitch decide whether to escalate or ignore reports.

In some instances, there were legitimate reasons for ignoring reports. One example, cited by former Twitch employees in interviews with the Washington Post, was Twitch's own head of community, Marcus "DJWheat" Graham. Graham would frequently have his child appear on-stream, leading to reports for breaking Twitch's rule against broadcasts by those under 13 years old.

The list was also used to whitelist early adopters of the IRL stream category, such as Tim "TimTheTatman" Betar.

But it was also used to shield bad actors. Bryan "RiceGum" Le and Tyler "Tyler1" Steinkamp were both cited as examples of streamers who broke Twitch's rules — inappropriate jokes and verbal abuse, respectively — and were protected by the list.

"I do remember RiceGum and Tyler1 both being given way more grace than they should have been," said one former Twitch employee. "And if one of us admins reported them anyway, we were told to kick rocks and pay attention to the do not ban list.

"It wasn't quite a 'get out of jail free' card, but there were clearly some streamers who got treated with more chances or abilities than others."

Twitch no longer uses Better Desk, and its creator says that even when it did, the list never completely insulated streamers from repercussions. Although a former Twitch employee says some partnered streamers do still receive extra slack, that leniency isn't hidden from staff at the company.

"Anyone with access to that system is going to be aware of additional leniency," they said.