Twitch and the audience
Twitch, a subsidiary of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), recently suffered a data breach that leaked confidential information, including the earnings of the biggest and well-known streamers on the platform, since September 2019. A torrent link of 125GB posted anonymously on 4chan showed the entirety of Twitch’s source code, commit history, proprietary services used, an unreleased Steam competitor code-named Vapor, and internal security tools.
Twitch has publicly stated that the leak did occur and is working towards understanding it. Being the biggest platform on the internet for gaming-oriented live-streaming services, they are notorious for keeping their operational details private, including their payouts to the biggest streamers on the platform. If true, this leak provides the average 16 to 24 year old viewer just how much contribution their donations make. The monthly earnings of some household name streamers such as Summit1g and Hasanabi are mind-boggling, with earnings up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month through subscriptions and ad revenue alone. xQc tops the list of the highest gross paid individual, earning $9 million from September 2019. It’s important to note that this is only a fraction of what is purported. Through sponsorships, merchandise, and other donations, they earn even more.
While some streamers have stated that the numbers are inaccurate, others have confirmed that it matches exactly to their records, making for interesting reading on whom the highest earners on the platform really are. It seems that this information to small streamers and those who can foster an audience is something to aspire to and definitely pays off. Recently, the platform came under scrutiny for ‘hate raids’, targeted attacks against streamers with bots who overwhelm the chat section with slurs and abusive comments, usually targeting minority streamers. The lack of support and frustration has led them to migrate to other platforms such as Facebook Gaming (NASDAQ: FB) or YouTube Gaming (NASDAQ: GOOGL). Others protested by organising a boycott of the platform, promoting the hashtags #ADayOffTwitch and #TwitchDoBetter.
Another controversial feature in the platform is slot streamers. These streamers get thousands of views daily and are usually partnered and sponsored by online casinos. The flashy colours, sounds, and reactions of the streamers who lose thousands of dollars a second make it enticing for younger audiences to adopt these gambling behaviours and cause real-life harm. In reaction to this, Twitch’s new rules prohibit the sharing of links and referral codes but offer nothing in terms of promoting. Gambling streamers tell viewers not to gamble but watch them gamble instead, encouraging gambling implicitly.
This leak is a big wake-up call to the nosy audience to know even more about the already public lifestyle of the biggest streamers on the platform. It adds more to the ever-growing list of controversies on the website. The anonymous hacker stated that his motive was to “foster disruption and competition in the streaming space.” Furthermore, the data was titled ‘part one,’ implying there may be more information to come. Watch with caution!