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Twitch Introduces New Shield Mode To Protect Streamers From Harassment

Harassment and abusive behavior are, sadly, nothing new to the internet. Those who spend a great deal of time online, especially anyone who makes a living by streaming, inevitably face hate and vitriol at some point. Now, Twitch is announcing a new feature intended to help its users protect themselves from this sort of abuse.

In a tweet and accompanying news post, the streaming service unveiled what it's calling Shield Mode, which should already be available to users. Designed to allow streamers to increase their protection quickly at times when they're experiencing, or anticipate, higher levels of harassment, Shield Mode is a package of settings, some old and some new, which can be customized and switched on and off with the push of a button.

In particular, this new mode is intended to protect against hate raids. These sudden swarms of users and bots which all join a chat at once and post offensive and hateful messages are a phenomenon known to many streamers. In fact, such a raid was the reason Pokimane almost quit Twitch this year.

Twitch had previously broken its silence on hate raids and committed to getting serious about them. Now, it seems the company is attempting to follow through on this pledge.

Shield Mode attempts to balance safety with openness

As the new Twitch post explains, Shield Mode's primary strength is in bringing together several existing features into one package that can be modified and activated all at once. Users can now create settings that restrict comments to subscribers, those who have posted before, or those whose accounts have been verified and then turn those settings on and off at will. Further, streamers will now be able to mass-ban users who post certain words or phrases with the ability to go back, review, and reinstate them later after investigating the context of their posts.

All together, Shield Mode is meant to be used selectively, being turned on and off based on circumstances. Streamers can activate Shield Mode, with its tighter restrictions, to shut down an attempted hate raid and then deactivate it when they feel safe to make it easier for new users to join the chat. This, Twitch argues, will allow streamers to balance safety with the need to be welcoming to viewers so they can grow their audience.

Just how effective this feature will be and how streamers will respond is not yet clear. The announcement does seem to have found some support in the community although others are somewhat skeptical. At any rate, this does represent a significant step for Twitch and displays a degree of followthrough on its past statements.