Twitch Adds a Phone Authentication Option to Fight Bot Attacks

In the middle of a climb in harassment campaigns conducted by automated bots, companies like Twitch resort to a more targeted approach – less “ban hammer,” and more like a bunch of small ban daggers .

Twitch has introduced a new tool the company believes will reduce bot attacks that destroy chatrooms on the video game streaming site. From now on, streamers around the world will want other users to verify their phone number via SMS before they can join the chat. This additional step will help reduce harassment from non -human accounts, as thought. The news, first released via source code, first reports by Twitch keeper Zach Bussey.

The appearance is on the verge of an epidemic of bot attacks, called “hate attacks,” in which harassers send hundreds or thousands of bots into streamers ’chatrooms. There, the bot accounts for hate spam, multilingual, sometimes using unicode to bypass hate speech filters.

Streamers affected by hate raids talk about the damage done to their canals. Sometimes, they will be forced to stop streaming Twitch altogether. The rioting attacks have sparked two large-scale social media protests and a lawsuit so far in response. In early September, thousands of streamers and their supporters organized a one-day boycott, #ADayOffTwitch, to protest the attacks and raise awareness. The hashtag #TwitchDoBetter is also known on Twitter. Shortly after the boycott, Twitch took over two users allegedly committed the raid. The case alleges that these individuals, as yet unidentified, violated its terms of service by “targeting black and LGBTQIA + streamers with racist, homophobic, sexist and other harassing content.”

The trouble with bot attacks is that Twitch can’t ban one or a hundred accounts that go along with these attacks and end them. “The challenge now is that bad actors can create more accounts to avoid bans,” said Angela Hession, vice president of Trust & Safety at Twitch. Twitch says the two users it is accused of, for example, run multiple Twitch accounts under different aliases. And included in each of the accounts are countless bots. Both users, the complaint said, claimed they could “generate thousands of bots per minute” on raid streamers.

Twitch has been fighting botmakers for a decade. (In 2016, it sued botmakers for increasing the audience and follower count of streamers.) Chatrooms are an important part for streamers to develop their audiences. If Twitch makes it difficult for new viewers to post, the service will lose momentum.

Twitch’s approach so far has been to offer streamers more control over who can and can’t chat. Streamers have options to make their chats subscriber only, or slow down their chat so that moderators can approve messages. There is also an option to force all chatters to verify their email on Twitch. That’s not enough yet.

The company believes it will help to add phone number verification to this toolbox. Users can authenticate up to five accounts via a single phone number, as there are some good reasons why streamers can have multiple accounts – such as creating chatbots for sharing useful information. If an account associated with a number is banned, however, all other accounts are also banned. Unlike two-factor authentication, viewers only need to verify once, not every time they log in or chat. And phone authentication is available on all the channels they look at who need it.

A Twitch representative says the company’s product team started working on the device five months ago, before the August hate epidemic.

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