As more and more people are stuck at home or working from home in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, the live-streaming juggernaut known as Twitch has experienced a massive increase in viewership during the month of April. This viewership can be attributed to several ongoing esports competitions that were able to switch to online-only production, as well as the closed beta release of Riot Games’ new tactical shooter, Valorant.
After that high-profile release, Twitch was on the forefront of controversy regarding “always live” 24/7 streams that were just re-broadcasting previous streams, before that matter was seemingly resolved on April 28, when the platform banned that practice. That came after the controversial ban of streamer Alinity, who’s nip-slip incident and ban raised arguments about consistency within in the ban system related to some of her previous incidents.
But even after those moments, Twitch still has another problem on its platform, and it’s one that’s been a prevalent issue for much, much longer than the others.
Fake Streamers Are Infesting the CS:GO Directory
Those familiar with Valorant recognize the game’s similarities to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a tactical shooter that sits atop the most-played games list on Steam currently, and has a thriving and robust esports scene.
On their CS:GO directory, Twitch has a different problem than what it has had with Valorant, and that’s the issue of streams that are pretending to be other people. As of the time of writing this, 1:04 PM EST on Thursday, April 28, there are roughly 321,000 people watching CS:GO streams on Twitch. Two of those top five streams are people impersonating CS:GO pros Jake ‘Stewie2k’ Yip and Michael ‘shroud’ Grzesiek, with thousands of viewers each.
Within minutes, both streams went down, but were quickly replaced by two different fake streams of each player, and another fake stream of CS:GO star Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev. It’s important to note that Grzesiek doesn’t even stream on Twitch at all anymore after signing an exclusive deal with Mixer in October 2019.
Stewie2k has called on Twitch as recently as April 26 to do something about the fake streamer that’s been drawing in thousands of viewers daily for months. The fake has been delivering misinformation regarding Yip’s competitive career as well, announcing on the fake profile page that he is quitting CS:GO and giving away his expensive in-game inventory.
In addition, the streams are linking viewers to scam websites pretending to give away CS:GO items. These websites ask for permission to access your Steam account after telling you that you’ve “won a free skin.”
Is Impersonating Another Streamer Against the Rules?
In Twitch’s Code of Conduct, content that impersonates someone else, as well as the act of sharing content that isn’t yours, are both not allowed. These fake streams are in clear violation of these guidelines, and yet they remain up. In addition, sharing misinformation, which the Stewie2k impersonator is clearly doing, also goes against guidelines.
With such a clear example of multiple guidelines being ignored, it begs the question: how come Twitch hasn’t already acted against these fake channels? One of the impersonated streamers, shroud, has already left the platform to stream on Mixer, and the longer the problem persists, the greater the risk that other streamers do so too.