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October 2021
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Perfect Timing: Twitch Gets Compromised With Voluminous Leak Of Data Via Torrent

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It's no secret that Amazon-owned Twitch has had a rough go of it for the past year or so. We've talked about most, if not all, of the issues the platform has created for itself: a DMCA apocalypse, a creative community angry about not being informed over copyright issues, unclear creator guidelines for content that result in punishment from Twitch while some creators happily test the fences on those guidelines, and further and ongoing communication breakdowns with creators. All of that, mind you, has taken place over the last 12 months. It's been bad. Really bad!But great news: now it's even worse! Someone managed to get into the Twitch platform and leak it. As in pretty much all of it. And even some information on a Steam-rival Amazon is planning to release. Seriously.

An anonymous hacker claims to have leaked the entirety of Twitch, including its source code and user payout information.The user posted a 125GB torrent link to 4chan on Wednesday, stating that the leak was intended to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space” because “their community is a disgusting toxic cesspool”.The leaked Twitch data reportedly includes:-The entirety of Twitch’s source code with comment history “going back to its early beginnings”-Creator payout reports from 2019-Mobile, desktop and console Twitch clients-Proprietary SDKs and internal AWS services used by Twitch-“Every other property that Twitch owns” including IGDB and CurseForge-An unreleased Steam competitor, codenamed Vapor, from Amazon Game Studios-Twitch internal ‘red teaming’ tools (designed to improve security by having staff pretend to be hackers)
As you can see, yeah, pretty much everything. And keep in mind that whoever leaked this via torrent has noted that this is "part 1". Now, while a great deal of attention is being paid to Vapor, an unreleased platform created by Amazon to compete with Steam, let's focus instead on the release of the financial compensation for Twitch creators. Because this represents yet another failure by Twitch to protect its own creative community.How detailed are these financial records. Extremely, as it turns out, with names and dollar amounts attached so that enterprising individuals are able to rank them. For instance, my own beloved Critical Role appears to be the top Twitch earner since 2019.
Now, I love Critical Role and am quite pleased that they're doing so well for themselves. But I'm pretty sure they also aren't loving their exact compensation through Twitch being out there for the entire world to see. I need to avoid getting into a victim-blaming issue here, since Twitch is very much a victim of this hack/compromise/leak... but we also don't have details from Amazon as to how this leak occurred, only that it is authentic. The next question is obvious: did Twitch do something stupid that left itself vulnerable to this sort of thing?We don't know. But this is the problem when a platform torches its reputation among its own creative like Twitch has over the last year or so. There's no goodwill in the bank for Twitch to rely on as it navigates through the fallout of all this. And, while it's worth noting that the person posting this leak claims they did so out of anger with how Twitch operates and its "toxic cesspool" of a community, the public and media framing of this leak has shown little sympathy for the platform overall.
This all comes at a time of much tribulation for Twitch, with the #DoBetterTwitch/#TwitchDoBetter hashtags at the forefront of efforts by users to demand a better service from the platform, including boycotts to demand action over hate raids. Twitch seems to be making some positive moves, but then always finds a way to do something terrible too.
If Twitch wants to start repairing this reputation, it should be in full "good PR" mode: admit what happened, be transparent, do not talk about other great things you've done, build a plan to repair this. Sadly, given Twitch's history, it's an open question whether it will do the right thing or not.

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posted at: 12:00am on 07-Oct-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Content Moderation Case Study: Twitter's Self-Deleting Tweets Feature Creates New Moderation Problems

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Summary: In its 15 years as a micro-blogging service, Twitter has given users more characters per tweet, reaction GIFs, multiple UI options, and the occasional random resorting of their timelines.The most recent offering was to give users the option to create posts designed to be swept away by the digital sands of time. Early in 2020, Twitter announced it would be rolling out "Fleets" — self-deleting tweets with a lifespan of only 24 hours. This put Twitter on equal footing with Instagram's "Stories" feature, which allows users to post content with a built-in expiration date.In the initial, limited rollout of Fleets, Twitter reported that the feature showed advantages over the platform's standard offering. Twitter Comms tweeted that initial testing looked promising, stating that it was seeing "less abuse with Fleets" with only a "small percentage" of Fleets being reported each day.Whether this early indicator was a symptom of the limited rollout or users viewing self-deleting abuse as a problem that solves itself, the wider rollout wasn't nearly as easy as earlier indicators nor was it relatively abuse free. Fleet’s full debut arrived in the wake of an incredibly contentious U.S. presidential election — one marred by election interference accusations and a constant barrage of misinformation. The full rollout also came after nearly a year of a worldwide pandemic, which resulted in a constant flow of misinformation across multiple social media platforms globally.While amplification of misinformation contained in Fleets was somewhat tempered by their innate ephemerality, as well as very limited interaction options, it seemed unclear how — or how well — Twitter was handling moderating misinformation spread by the new communication option. Extremism researcher Marc-Andre Argentino was able to send out a series of "fleets" containing misinformation and banned URLS, noting that Twitter only flagged one that asserted a link between the virus and cell phone towers.Samantha Cole reported other Fleet moderation issues. Writing for Motherboard, Cole noted that apparent glitches were allowing users to see Fleets from people they had blocked, as well as Fleets from people who had blocked them. Failing to maintain settings that users set up to block or mute others created more avenues for abuse. Cole also pointed out that users weren't being notified when their tweets were added to Fleets, providing abusive users with another option to harass while the targets of abuse remain unaware.Company Considerations:

  • How can Twitter prevent new features from duplicating existing moderation problems?
  • How can companies test a feature’s initial rollout to better detect possible abuses, and therefore resulting in less moderation needs in the wider rollout? 
  • How does ephemeral content affect moderation efforts and moderation response time? 
  • If issues remain unsolved or poorly-addressed, who has the power to shut down or temporarily disable a new feature? 
  • How much time should moderation teams be given to adjust to new responsibilities and new inputs when a new feature is rolled out? What metrics would be useful to determine whether moderation responses are successfully addressing new abuses and problems?
Issue Considerations:
  • What processes should companies have in place to mitigate damage if a feature doesn't perform in the expected way and/or creates unforeseen problems?
  • Does "fleeting" content have the potential to cause moderators to view abusive posts as problems that will solve themselves? How can this mindset be discouraged or counteracted?
Resolution: Twitter's immediate response to the issues during the full rollout was to temporarily slow the deployment of the feature to users. While the issues that impacted moderation never really dissipated, the feature itself did. Twitter noted that Fleets did not have the uptake it expected. Although Fleets was supposed to encourage more engagement from Twitter users who lurked more than posted, observers noted that the feature appeared to be used mostly by users who were already heavily-engaged with the platform.With the feature never being much more than a novelty for Twitter die-hards, Twitter killed off the feature on August 3, 2021, taking with it the moderation problems the self-killing Fleets had created.Originally posted to the Trust & Safety Foundation website

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posted at: 12:00am on 07-Oct-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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