Twitch’s new paid channel boosts have, unsurprisingly, led users streaming porn straight to the platform’s front page. Now, after a few surprise complaints from folks suddenly hit with explicit videos in their “Live channels we think you’ll like” column, Twitch pulled the plug on the feature.
Dot Esports reported Twitch’s porn problem when streamer TheNoosh22 tweeted, “Hey @Twitch …that ‘Pay for Promo’ thing you introduced just put this on my front page in my recommended,” along with a screenshot featuring a topless woman in their recommended channels. Other streamers, like BowieTCG, shared screenshots of similar graphic suggestions, which included a “Promoted by the streamer’s community” message on the preview.
In an update to PC Gamer, Twitch confirmed it was indeed its Boost Train feature turning the front page into an NSFW mess. The rep noted that this new paid boost program began tests in March, using subscriptions and bits to propel some channels to the front page. For obvious reasons, Boost Train has since been disabled.
A couple of Reddit threads, before the raunchy vids fiasco, report Twitch offering the test to some smaller channels. “We’re testing a new hyped-up Hype Train called Boost Train,” reads the Twitch notice. “It’s a new Hype Train reward that boosts your channel by promoting your stream in highly visible places on Twitch.”
Unforgivable and hellish use of “hype” and “train” aside, the feature kind of has disaster written all over it. If not strictly moderated, I’m not sure how you get any other outcome than what happened here—a sea of trolls ready to stream videos of people bangin’. Honestly, that seems like the least awful outcome when I imagine all of the other heinous options some of the internet’s worst could conjure up.
Twitch’s notice to users indicates the test was for small streamers, but I reckon the front page is just for sale should this roll out on a large scale. Even if the company does maintain a carefully moderated system, it’s hard to imagine any good outcome where a handful of folks get to pay for the visibility.