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Twitch sues two people allegedly behind hate raids

(Washington Post illustration)

On Thursday night, Twitch filed a legal complaint against two users that claims they flooded streamers’ chats with “racist, sexist, and homophobic language and content,” repeatedly evaded bans by creating new accounts, and “seriously harmed and will continue to harm the Twitch community.” The two users’ real names are unknown; they are referred to in the filing as “CruzzControl” and “CreatineOverdose,” their handles on the platform.

For about a month, Twitch has been under siege by harassers using fake accounts and bots to spam streamers’ chats with hate speech. In some cases, harassers have leaked personal information about targeted streamers like their real names and addresses. In response to this platform-wide epidemic, streamers have called for a more direct response on Twitch’s part — even employing a strike to get their point across.

“We hope this Complaint will shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks and the tools that they exploit, dissuade them from taking similar behaviors to other services, and help put an end to these vile attacks against members of our community,” a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement to The Post.

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According to the complaint, CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose, whose real names remain unknown, are based in the Netherlands and Austria respectively. The suit alleges that CruzzControl has explicitly admitted to using bots for the purpose of hate raids. It also says that on Aug. 15, CreatineOverdose allegedly “used their bot software to demonstrate how it could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic descriptions of violence against minorities, and claims that the hate raiders are the ‘K K K.’”

Twitch claims in the suit that CreatineOverdose and CruzzControl continue to operate on Twitch under a variety of aliases and avoid detection by “continually altering their self-described ‘hate raid code.’” It also posits that the two are part of a “hate raiding community” that spans multiple platforms including Steam and Discord, citing a previous report from The Post as evidence.

Twitch has a history of using lawsuits not just to seek payment for damages, but also to gain legal subpoena power to uncover perpetrators’ real identities. In 2019, it filed a complaint against 100 anonymous users who created dummy channels to overwhelm the platform’s live-streaming category dedicated to Valve-developed card game “Artifact” with broadcasts that included anime, porn and anime porn. In 2018, Twitch won a lawsuit against two creators of “viewbots” — which are designed to make it appear as if streamers have more viewers than are actually present in a live stream — with a judge ordering them to permanently shut down their software and pay Twitch more than $1.3 million in damages and ill-gotten gains.

Twitch acknowledges that it cannot simply sue hate raiders to solve the problem of organized harassment. The company said in its statement that this is just part of its larger, long-awaited plan to tackle the problem.

“This Complaint is by no means the only action we’ve taken to address targeted attacks, nor will it be the last,” said the Twitch spokesperson, noting that teams have been working on proactive detection systems and channel-level safety tools. “Hate and harassment have no place on Twitch, and we know we have a lot more work to do — but we hope that these combined actions will help reduce the immediate and unacceptable harm that targeted attacks have been inflicting on our community.”

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