Twitch has finally ruled that it’s not against its rules to be deemed attractive. It’s the latest and official word in the saga of “hot tub meta” that’s taken over the platform in recent weeks, though the official decision that it’s not explicitly against the platform’s rules did come with some changes.
If you’re just catching up here, the rise of people streaming in pools and hot tubs has created a dilemma for Twitch, one they finally addressed on Friday. Often the people streaming in hot tubs or pools have done so in bathing suits, usually women in bikinis, which are often deemed inappropriate by content guidelines unless they are worn while someone is in water. Hence the rise of inflatable pools, jacuzzis and other tubs being used as part of the fad.
Here’s a New York Post story from early May detailing the debate it sparked:
“Hot tub meta” has likely helped “Just Chatting” become Twitch’s most-viewed category, eclipsing “let’s play” tutorials of “League of Legends” and “Grand Theft Auto V,” according to Insider.
“I think it’s pretty universal that people like seeing pretty ladies in bikinis,” said Spoopy Kitt, an anonymous streamer who has 60,000 followers on the Amazon-owned platform. Spoopy, who regularly talks to viewers while riding on an inflatable lobster, added that “hot tubs have become the new and effective way streamers are using to ‘win the game.’”
Unfortunately, many Twitch users are none too thrilled with the titillating pastime, which they feel cheapens the platform’s brand.
Hot tub meta has become a huge topic of discussion in gaming, as the larger discussion about what’s a violation of nudity rules can quickly get into the weeds. Which is why an official comment on the issue is big news. On Friday, Twitch published an official update on ‘Hot Tub Streams’ on its blog that ruled, while most are not against the rules, many of those streams will be moved to the platform’s new “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches” section created specifically to address the situation.
“While we have guidelines about sexually suggestive content, being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules,” the post said. “And Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness.”
At issue here is, well, a number of things. But in the streaming world, advertising and monetization is always at the heart of things. While some streamers have amassed huge numbers of viewers through these streams, advertisers may not want their products associated with the trend and decided not to put ads on these streams. Which is why siloing the content off and letting those advertisers opt out of the section is part of the motivation for this decision.
“This is not intended to be our long-term solution to improve brand targeting capabilities and increase personalization in our recommendations,” the blog post said. “It does, however, solve a few issues for all audiences in the near term.”
That doesn’t solve the questions of age appropriateness, context and subjectivity that make all of this complicated in the first place. And the “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches” section is supposed to be a temporary stopgap measure. But it’s a sign Twitch is trying to figure things out, which is good news for inflatable lobster enthusiasts.