Straightening Up a Wrinkled Privacy Picture

Despite having all the intelligence at their disposal, human beings have failed rather sensationally at not making mistakes. This dynamic has, in fact, popped up on the surface quite a few times throughout our history, with each of these appearances practically forcing us to look for a defensive cover. We will, however, solve our conundrum in the most fitting way possible, and we’ll do so by bringing dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across each and every area was a game-changer, as it instantly gave us a safety cushion against our many shortcomings. Now, the kind of utopia you would generally expect from such a development did arrive, but it notably failed to stick around for a long time. Talk about what caused it to dissipate so soon, the answer will literally include technology before it covers anything else. You see, the moment technology got its layered nature to take over the scene, it allowed every individual an unprecedented chance to fulfil their ulterior motives, even if it meant doing it at the expense of others’ well-being. In case this didn’t sound bad enough, the whole runner eventually began to materialize on such a massive scale that it ended up neutralizing out governing forces, thus sending them back to square one. After a lengthy spell in the middle of nowhere, though, it seems like the regulatory contingent is finally ready to make a comeback. The same has turned more and more evident over the recent past, and Twitch’s latest announcement does a lot to make that trend bigger and better moving forward.

Twitch, the video game livestreaming site popular with teens and kids, has officially unveiled a new security framework, which focuses on protecting young users on its platform. According to certain reports, this new framework will be built around a fortified piece of technology that the company can use to identify, and subsequently, terminate accounts belonging to people below the age of 13. The platform has also introduced a few mandatory phone verification requirements for “potentially vulnerable accounts.” This means any user who doesn’t complete the relevant verification will not be allowed to start livestreaming on Twitch. Although there was, unsurprisingly enough, no mention about it in the official announcement, the move seems to be a by-product of one Bloomberg report. The stated report, which was published back in September 2022, talked about how Bloomberg analyzed over 1,976 Twitch accounts, accounts that notably had follower lists made up of 70 percent or more users who are kids or young teenagers. As for the results, the organization, quite shockingly, discovered that a total of 279,016 children were targeted by these alleged predators on Twitch.

Moving on, Twitch is also making significant amendments to its moderation policies so to prioritize reports involving users under the age of 13, and to top it all, the platform is even working with outside organizations for the purpose of gauging wider child grooming trends so it can better monitor and combat predators.

“Grooming is particularly insidious because it can be hidden in plain sight, and there are fewer established industry practices for detecting it,” Twitch said in a blog post. “These predators are not welcome and will not be tolerated on Twitch, and today we’re sharing an update regarding the continuous work we’re doing to combat them.”

Twitch’s announcement was well-received by experts across the industry, especially the ones who have been championing a better privacy model for some time now.

“In the face of a tsunami of new legislation around the world, it is good to see some online services taking early steps towards adopting privacy-preserving age assurance methods, but none of the major global platforms most popular with kids has yet adopted sufficiently comprehensive, audited age checks to keep children safe online,” said Iain Corby, executive director at the Age Verification Providers Association, a global trade body.

Fair enough, Twitch has surely made a huge effort to bolster the privacy landscape, but given how layered these platforms can be, there is still a long way to go before we see any meaningful improvements.


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