Meisner, C. (2023). Networked responses to networked harassment? Creators’ coordinated management of “hate raids” on Twitch. Social Media + Society, 9(2).
Open access: Yes
Notes: In this article, Meisner addresses how creators on Twitch respond to hate raids—a form of networked harassment where users target somebody in mass, often due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation. More specifically, the author seeks to explore how creators on Twitch respond concerning their networks of users, fellow creators, and the platform itself. Here, Meisner found that streamers tend to emphasize their connection to audiences over the connection with their peers: “by emphasizing connections with audiences as the primary mode of community building, Twitch streamers, with few exceptions, failed to connect with peer creators as a class of workers which ultimately fragmented their ability to facilitate widespread solidarity against hate raids” (p. 6). Additionally, while streamers aimed to receive support from the platform, the nature of its content moderation (decentralized) and its culture left them disappointed and frustrated. In this sense, this article provides a valuable addition to responses to online violence (especially networked harassment), as it illustrates the limitations in achieving solidarity among digital content creators—a critical step in demanding cultural and infrastructural change within platform governance.
Abstract: This study investigates how social media creators navigate and respond to severe cases of ongoing, networked harassment. Drawing on 19 in-depth interviews with Twitch streamers who experienced a form of networked harassment known as “hate raids” on the platform, including three creators who built and shared tools to combat these attacks, this analysis pays particular attention to the nature and coordination of responses to networked harassment and the extent to which creators’ responses are also networked. This study’s findings suggest that, in the absence of communication and technical support from Twitch, creators started ad hoc networks for sharing technical tools, offering strategies for managing audiences during attacks, and providing emotional support for peer creators. Yet these networks of support were unevenly accessed across the streamers interviewed in this study and often existed only temporarily. This study’s findings furthermore indicate that communities on Twitch form primarily around individual streamers, which fosters supportive connections within that streamer’s audience community but limits opportunities for solidarities to form across streamers as a class of creative workers. I conclude by considering more broadly how platform infrastructures can facilitate or constrain different forms of community building among creators and their audiences.