Gaming platform Twitch takes a massive step towards flushing bots

Look out MAGA people.

As anyone who paid any attention to the rise of Donald Trump and Trumpism a half-decade ago will attest, bots have become a serious problem on the world wide web. We all know that Katy Perry has more followers than Miley Cyrus on Twitter. But you ever wonder how many of Ms. Hudson’s digital social media disciples are real people, and how many signed up as followers from a bot farm buried deep in a Russian tech bunker? Aware that bots are a problem—and a serious one at that, Twitch has done something about it. After studying engagement patterns for months, the wildly popular gaming platform flagged an eye-popping number of accounts as fake. We’re not talking hundreds of thousands, but instead millions upon millions.

“We have been monitoring the rise of fake engagement on Twitch and have identified 7.5MM+ accounts that break our TOS by follow-botting and view-botting,” Twitch posted on Twitter. “We are taking action on these accounts and appreciate all of the reports about this issue.”

The platform’s support team then added: “A majority of these accounts were detected through ongoing machine learning technology that will continue to improve and we will continue to operate going forward. We engage in enforcement when necessary including pursuing legal action.”

Perhaps predictably, the fallout was immediate for some of Twitch’s more notable—which is to say massively followed—streamers. And indeed Twitch warned of the possibility of “sudden decreases” in follower and viewer counts.

Twitch has a valid reason!

Streamer Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris lost a whopping 45 percent of his followers, which becomes even more hard to swallow with the revelation that translated into 2.8 million now-deleted accounts. Even more noteworthy was xQc’s follower count instantly plunging from 8.1 million to 5.9 million.

Twitch has a valid reason for wanting to root out who’s real and the bots who are not on the platform.

On a Help page it states “Artificial engagement and botting limit growth opportunities for legitimate broadcasters and are damaging to the community as a whole.”

A community that, no doubt, has a couple of Katy Perry Twitter followers, not to mention some Trump “fans”, in its ranks. Yes, bots are a problem.

Mike Usinger once took the better part of two years to finish Grand Theft Auto. Over the course of his career he has written about everything from eSports to music to movies to travel.

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