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Twitch rolls out AutoMod feature to combat user harassment

Amazon’s gameplay streaming service Twitch is introducing a new set of automated moderation tools in a bid to reduce user abuse and harassment across all registered channels.

According to Twitch, the optional AutoMod feature is designed “to help [broadcasters] create a more positive experience for themselves and their communities” by automatically filtering specific words and phrases parroted by users who participate in serial harassment.

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User harassment has long been an issue for the Twitch platform, as persistent trolls can easily circumvent chat bans and word filters designed to prevent abusive language. According to Twitch, the new AutoMod feature will supplement existing moderation tools through machine learning and natural language processing.

Twitch’s new moderation tools saw a trial run during the platform’s recent broadcasts of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, with encouraging results.

“AutoMod is a unique moderation tool that does more than filter inappropriate chat,” Twitch explains. “When a user sends a message that AutoMod flags as potentially inappropriate, the message is held in a publishing queue awaiting moderator approval.”

The AutoMod tool offers an adjustable degree of filtering “in the event [users] are more or less conservative about the type of dialogue they want to see in their chat.” In addition to eliminating specific words and phrases in chat, broadcasters can target abusive emotes and other harassing language that often evades traditional filtering tactics.

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“What makes Twitch a leader in moderation, beyond our ever-vigilant team of Admin moderators, is that we equip streamers with a robust set of tools and allow them to appoint trusted moderators straight from their communities to protect the integrity of their channels,” said Twitch Moderation Lead Ryan Kennedy.

“This allows creators to focus more on producing great content and managing their communities,” Kennedy continued. “By combining the power of humans and machine learning, AutoMod takes that a step further. For the first time ever, we’re empowering all of our creators to establish a reliable baseline for acceptable language and around-the-clock chat moderation.”

The AutoMod tool is currently available in English only, though future updates will support Arabic, Czech, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.