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Securing your Chat with Phone and Email Verification

Sep 29 2021

Hate and harassment of any kind is unacceptable and prohibited on Twitch, whether it’s an offensive message, malicious follows, or the egregious “hate raid” attacks that have targeted marginalized creators over the past months. Curbing this type of behavior is, and will continue to be, a top priority for us. While we have tools available to help creators protect themselves, we know there will always be more to be done to stop hateful behavior, especially by motivated individuals and groups. Today, we’re updating our suite of moderation tools by adding phone-verified chat and expanding the settings for email verification, to help Creators better control their chat experience and improve security. This will be available to all Creators starting today, and can be accessed from your Creator Dashboard

Phone verified chat gives Creators finer control over who can participate in chat, by allowing them to require some or all users to verify a phone number before chatting. Together with updated, more granular email verification settings, Creators will now be able to use email and phone verification in tandem to meet their specific needs. 

We’ve spent many months building, testing and refining this tool, and while this is far from the last update on our roadmap to improve Creator safety, we’re optimistic about the impact it can have in making a safer Twitch. 

How to Enable Verified Chat

Both Creators and Mods can set the verification requirements for a channel. Creators can access this setting from the Dashboard → Settings → Moderation and Mods can access it via Chat → “Manage Moderation Settings.” Phone and/or email verification can be required for:

You can also choose to exempt VIPs, Subscribers, and Moderators from verifying. Note that phone and email verification will be turned off by default until you decide to opt in.

Curbing Ban Evasion

We know there are many reasons someone may need to manage more than one account, so you can verify up to five accounts per phone number. That said, to help prevent ban evasion, if one phone-verified account is suspended site-wide, all accounts tied to that number will also be suspended site-wide. Users won’t be able to verify additional accounts using a phone number that is already tied to an actively suspended account. 

At the channel-level, if one phone-verified or email-verified account is banned by a channel, all other accounts tied to that phone number or email will also be banned from chatting in that channel.

What It Means for Viewers

If a channel you’re watching has enabled phone or email verification, and you haven’t already verified a mobile phone number and/or email, you’ll be asked to verify when you attempt to chat. Unlike 2FA, which requires verification each time you sign in, you’ll only need to verify a mobile phone number and/or email once to be considered “verified,” and this verification will carry across all channels on Twitch. This is to reduce friction for viewers, and to help ensure that Creators can still grow their channels and interact with new viewers, without being adversely impacted simply because they want to protect themselves and their communities.

Why Now, and What’s Next

Building this tool was a major undertaking that spanned several months—and we know it’s felt like a long time to get to you. When we launch a new tool or feature, it’s essential that it works across devices and regions at scale from day one, which requires thoughtful and thorough planning, testing, and deployment. As you have time to test phone verified chat for yourselves and share feedback, we’ll keep monitoring the tool’s impact, and updating the FAQ below.  

Our work to make Twitch safer will never be over, just as there’ll never be a single fix for harassment and hate online. But as long as toxic behavior can find ways into our communities, we must – and will – keep working on ways to make it harder to do so. From technology and tooling to policy and education, we’re committed to finding more and better ways to decrease harm, empower Creators, and share vital information on how users can stay safe. We’ll be launching a new channel-level ban evasion tool in the coming months, and look forward to sharing more.

If you have feedback about this feature or other thoughts on how we can make Twitch a safer place for all, please drop us a line on UserVoice. Your feedback plays a crucial role in developing new technologies, policies and tools to keep you safe. 

FAQ

Can I use a landline or VOIP number? 

No, you can’t. Phone verified chat relies on an SMS code to confirm that you are in possession of the phone number you say is yours, and landline numbers do not have this capability. It’s also very easy for bad actors to create multiple Voice over IP (VoIP) numbers, which would undermine the effectiveness of phone verification as a safety tool. 

If I don’t have a mobile phone, does this mean I can’t participate in chat anymore?

 If your account is not phone-verified, this will not prevent you from watching and enjoying a stream—but it does mean there may be some channels you are unable to chat in if they have phone-verified chat enabled. Creators can also choose to make exceptions to phone-verified chat for accounts of a certain age or following time, as well as VIPs, moderators, and subscribers.

Will this prevent malicious followbots from entering my channel?

Botting is a longstanding, internet-wide problem that will never have an 100% success rate – this added layer of account verification will certainly make it harder for malicious actors to spam-bot your chat en masse. No single tech solution will ever block bad actors’ behavior entirely, but this new hurdle will work within our constantly evolving suite of technologies and tooling, to slow them down considerably and reduce the number of channels they can impact. To make it even harder for bad actors to harass you through multiple accounts at once, we’ve designed the tool so that when one account tied to a verified phone number is channel-banned or suspended sitewide, all of the accounts are. 

Will enabling this tool impact the discoverability or interactivity of my channel?

While users who aren’t phone verified may not be able to chat in your channel, this shouldn’t impact your discoverability, or the way that phone verified users can organically interact in chat. In fact, a key advantage to this tool is that it helps keep bad actors out of chat in the first place, so you won’t have to react to them with other measures that could have a bigger impact on your chat’s flow. We’ve also designed the tool so that depending on your preferences, not all users must be phone-verified to participate. You can control settings so that only accounts of a certain age, following time, or chat history must be phone verified, and you can also exempt specific groups, like VIPs, Subscribers, and moderators.

How will you keep my personal phone and email information safe?

The safety and privacy of your data are paramount. While no online security precautions or systems can ever be completely secure, Twitch uses a robust combination of managerial, technical, and physical measures to protect the integrity and security of your information. You can read more about the way we collect, use and protect the information you share on Twitch here

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