This article was published on July 31, 2019

Twitch bans, then unbans streamer after accusing him of fraud

Twitch bans, then unbans streamer after accusing him of fraud

A Twitch streamer named Craig “NBDxWilliams” Williams was recently banned from the streaming platform and then reinstated today. His struggles with the platform, and Twitch staff’s confusion over Williams’ streaming setup, shine a light on how Twitch flags potential problems — and how anyone who’s not streaming strictly games or podcasts might run into similar problems on the site.

Twitch streamers who use the site for monetary purposes do so by becoming Twitch partners or affiliates. Twitch partnership is usually exclusively reserved for the streamers with the biggest audiences and a consistent streaming schedule — you have to work for it, in other words. And once you’ve received partnership, you’re expected to maintain your audience.

Perhaps, given the benefits of increased support attention and the chance for monetary gain, it’s no surprise someone would have tried to game the system by artificially inflating subscriber numbers.

This is what Williams was apparently accused of when he was banned from the platform. Williams, who builds setups for the iRacing sim, said Twitch didn’t bother to properly investigate his business or how it related to his Twitch streams. Williams tweeted that his problems with the site lasted for several weeks, and he said: “[No] research was given into what i did, no questions where asked, from my first email you did nothing to help, you just assumed i was being a fraud.”

In response to his inquiries as to where his subscription payout was, Williams received a bizarrely condescending email saying the site wouldn’t “pay out fraudulent revenue.” As to how they knew the revenue was fraudulent, the anonymous support tech said: “Do you not notice how you have well over a thousand subs but when you stream no one talks? Then when your stream is offline you have hundreds of subs?”

They make it sound like they’ve found a smoking gun, but Williams says there’s a simple explanation for this. As incentive to get viewers to subscribe, partners are allowed to offer perks. Williams’ Twitch subscribers have access to his iRacing setup shop, meaning there’s a good reason someone would want to subscribe or re-up existing subs to his channel even when he’s not streaming. But, in spite of the fact that Twitch staff was apparently watching him closely enough to know his live chat activity was low, they didn’t catch onto that fact.

Williams today revealed that, after an investigation, he was reinstated and would receive the subscriber income he’d missed during the ban (coincidentally after the support response became the subject of a very popular, mocking Reddit thread), but it’s still a reminder of how running a business on Twitch that doesn’t conform to its typical template of “stream, viewers subscribe for on-stream content.”

We reached out to Twitch and haven’t received a response at the time of writing.

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