Twitch rolls back nudity policy after users post explicit drawings

Twitch, the livestreaming platform known for gaming content, announced Friday it had rolled back its updated nudity policies after just two days, following incidents in which users posted sexually explicit content that went against the platform’s guidelines.

The streaming company has struggled to moderate sexual content throughout the years. In a blog post Friday, CEO Dan Clancy apologized and said Twitch “went too far” in deciding to allow artistic and digital depictions of fictionalized nudity, which it had announced on Wednesday. 

“Moving forward, depictions of real or fictional nudity won’t be allowed on Twitch, regardless of the medium. This restriction does not apply to Mature-rated games,” Clancy’s post read. “While I wish we would have predicted this outcome, part of our job is to make adjustments that serve the community.”

Clancy’s post cited the incidents of streamers posting content that violated Twitch’s guidelines after the new policy was announced. He wrote that Twitch had taken action against channels that broke its rules. The platform’s “Art” section was quickly filled with pornographic drawings and animation, including fetish art and sexually explicit imagery of what appeared to be young girls. Most of the videos have since been deleted from Twitch. 

While the rule change was intended to allow Twitch’s artist community to “utilize the human form in their art,” Clancy’s post said, the update also presented issues with AI-generated content that could look photo-realistic.

Twitch’s community has historically presented unusual challenges to Twitch’s content moderation policies. For example, Twitch is one of the few social media platforms that explicitly govern women’s attire. In its community Attire guidelines, Twitch says it does not permit “exposed underbust.”

Last week, a video of a female streamer whose cleavage was prominently displayed during her Twitch stream went viral, prompting a familiar round of outrage in the Twitch community. Some people in the community have disparaged female streamers for showing skin even in non-nude contexts. The streamer, an OnlyFans model named Morgpie, looked like she could be naked in the video framing, but did not actually show any nudity — she was actually wearing a low-cut shirt and jeans. Despite being a platform marked by controversies like gambling livestreams and swatting attacks (where a police unit is summoned to a victim’s home over a false criminal accusation), issues like cleavage have become flashpoints for community backlash.

In the aftermath of last week’s controversy, Twitch’s policy update on Wednesday sought to streamline disjointed policies around sexual content and create one, newly clarified sexual content policy. The only section rolled back Friday was the one pertaining to nudity. Sections of the changed policy that still stand include one permitting activities like erotic dancing when it’s labeled and not posted on Twitch’s homepage.

Other content that is allowed on Twitch but requires a label for “Sexual Themes” and should not be recommended on Twitch’s homepage includes “twerking, grinding, and pole dancing,” as well as content that “deliberately highlighted breasts, buttocks or pelvic region.”

Regarding the highlighting of body parts, Wednesday’s policy update specifically said “[…] the former Sexually Suggestive Content policy was out of line with industry standards and resulted in female-presenting streamers being disproportionately penalized.”

Other types of content that should no longer appear on Twitch’s homepage includes streams labeled as including drugs, intoxication, or excessive tobacco use; gambling; and violent and graphic depictions.