Cleavage but no underbust, please: Twitch bans “implied nudity” among streamers

I realise we’re all struggling through the dank depths of January but it’s never too early in the year to talk about sex, baby. Twitch have updated their attire policies to stop an outbreak of “implied nudity” among thirstier streamers, who have taken to filming themselves nude with black censor bars, or positioning the camera to suggest that they’re fully or partially naked outside the frame.

“While most streamers have labeled this content appropriately with the Sexual Themes label and are wearing clothing behind the object or outside the camera frame, for many users, the thumbnails of this content can be disruptive to their experience on Twitch,” reads a post from chief customer trust officer Angela Hession.

“While content labeled with the Sexual Themes label isn’t displayed on the home page, this content is displayed within the category browse directories, and we recognize that many users frequent these pages to find content on Twitch.”

The change to the attire policy means that clothing or body coverage must be “fully opaque”, which means nothing “sheer or partially see-through”. Streams must also be appropriately tagged: for example, people who stream from pools or hot tubs while wearing swimsuits must use the “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches” category. Cleavage is “unrestricted”, but underbust is off the menu. Policy adjustments aside, Twitch’s developers are working on the ability to blur thumbnails used for streams labelled Sexual Themes, together with new search filters for content classification label preferences.

Here’s the updated Attire policy in full.

We don’t permit streamers to be fully or partially nude, including exposing genitals or buttocks. Nor do we permit streamers to imply or suggest that they are fully or partially nude, including, but not limited to, covering breasts or genitals with objects or censor bars. We do not permit the visible outline of genitals, even when covered. Broadcasting nude or partially nude minors is always prohibited, regardless of context.

For those who present as women, we ask that you cover your nipples and do not expose underbust. Cleavage is unrestricted as long as these coverage requirements are met and it is clear that the streamer is wearing clothing.

For all streamers, you must cover the area extending from your hips to the bottom of your pelvis and buttocks.

I’m a far cry from being RPS’s official sex correspondent, despite recent shmup coverage, but I’m always interested in how platform holders court the hornier members of their audience without infringing upon things like age ratings or breaking unspoken taboos. Back in December, Twitch reversed a sexual content policy update which allowed for depictions of “fictionalised nudity” if properly labelled. “Upon reflection, we have decided that we went too far with this change,” Twitch CEO Dan Clancy wrote in a blog post. “Digital depictions of nudity present a unique challenge – AI can be used to create realistic images, and it can be hard to distinguish between digital art and photography.”

It’s a running battle – a “meta”, as Hession describes it in the post above, akin to balancing a competitive multiplayer game. I was going to say this is the least sexy way to describe sexual content, but now I’m wondering whether we can surreptitiously redefine Call of Duty updates as a form of titillation. Anyway, this is definitely the point at which I should turn over discussion to the comments thread.

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