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Twitch's Surprise Policy Update Bans New Words

Twitch released a new policy update this week to include a few new banned words that caught fans and popular streamers off-guard. Once the policy goes into effect in January, any Twitch users who negatively use the terms "simp," "virgin," and "incel" will be removed from the platform. Alongside the banned words, Twitch is also enacting a new hateful conduct, sexual harassment, and harassment policy.

In a clip shared by Dexerto, Twitch COO Sara Clemens announced the banned words during Twitch's "Town Hall" live stream on Dec. 16. "Using terms like 'simp,' incel, or virgin as an insult to negatively refer to another person's sexual activity is not allowed under this new policy," Clemens explained.

As Dexerto reported, this ban on terms like "simp" also extends to any emotes that refer to the term. Clemens also mentioned other "sexually-focused terms," noting that using these terms in a repeated manner to "negatively target" others will result in a permanent ban from Twitch. 

The Amazon-owned platform also released an in-depth look at the policy on its website, which notes that "making derogatory statements about another person's perceived sexual practices or morality" will also be bannable when the policy is enacted on Jan. 22, 2021. However, Twitch did not specify how it plans to enforce the policy.

Esports broadcaster and games industry insider Rod "Slashler" Breslau was one of the first to share the policy update on Twitter. In a thread, he summarized the policy and asked, "Twitch baby, what is you doing?" Breslau later shared a clarification from Twitch, which stated that "using these terms on their own" is fine, but action will be taken if they are used "repeatedly in a harassing manner."

Some popular Twitch streamers opposed the change and joked about the policy in the replies. Neeko, for example, wrote that she'll have to replace her choice of words from "simp" and "incel" to "king" and "manbaby." Meanwhile, Nickmercs explained that "gamin' with the boys" often includes "roastin'" them.

Twitch has gained a reputation for bringing its "banhammer" down hard on streamers, sometimes for reasons that don't seem to make sense. Back in October, Twitch temporarily banned creator Alisha12287 for "harassment" during one of her streams, though she had reportedly only been speaking up about animal cruelty from a cat breeding company in Florida. Twitch has often been the subject of criticism for being quick to ban streamers for these innocuous reasons, but not for incidents of serious harassment. 

Streamers are skeptical at the moment about Twitch's banned words policy, but they will have to wait until the new year to see what comes of it.