This week, Harris Heller, a Twitch streamer, went live to discuss the controversial Branded Content guidelines that Twitch recently announced. While on stream, Seth Hendrix, Twitch’s Creative Director, entered the chat and proceeded to, according to Heller, gaslight him. And, since Hendrix is a Twitch staff member, Heller wasn’t able to ban him when he felt the conversation had gone too far. The incident has sparked a discussion about whether streamers should be able to ban Twitch staff in situations like this.

What happened exactly?

When Twitch announced its new guidelines on branded content, it was universally panned by the streaming community. Naturally, the topic would be a hot topic for Twitch streamers to discuss in their streams. Heller was one of the mainstreamers discussing the topic, and his discussion caught the attention of Hendrix. In Heller’s chat, Hendrix commented, “Harris, I love you. But I also would love to talk to you 1:1 sometime.” He later continued, “No (one) is saying you’re wrong about anything. Just you have so many assumptions that are so way off”. 

Heller was visibly distressed by this interaction

Heller replied to Hendrix’s comment by saying, “I love the guys over Twitch; no hate over here, but we’re all frustrated.” According to Heller, a Twitch staff coming into his chat doesn’t fix anything. Hendrix then proceeded to tell Heller that he wasn’t telling him he was wrong. Visibly uneasy at Hendrix’s response, Heller said, “I’m happy to be wrong, but just tell me I’m wrong. Don’t tell me I’m wrong and then say I’m not saying you’re wrong.”

Hendrix continued to send more messages in chat, frustrating Heller more and leading him to say, “I don’t understand why we’re having this conversation. If Twitch is trying to fix its appearance with streamers, you can’t come into a streamer’s chat.” At this point, Heller felt like his stream was being hijacked and tried to ban Hendrix in chat. However, he was unable to because streamers can’t ban Twitch staff in their chats. The interaction led to him ending his stream early, saying, “I want to end my stream right now because I feel so uncomfortable by getting gaslit by Twitch staff on my livestream.”

Hendrix later tweeted about the situation and told his audience not to send any hate Hendrix’s way.

Should streamers be able to ban Twitch staff in their chats?

Banning is one of the only tools Twitch streamers have to control their chats. If a chatter tries to hijack a stream, streamers don’t have to engage if they don’t want to. They can just ban the chatter and move on. However, when that chatter is a Twitch staff member, there’s nothing streamers can do. For the most part, streamers would expect Twitch staff members to act professionally and certainly not argue with them in chat. In the case of Heller, Hendrix’s comments caused him real distress. Being able to ban Hendrix certainly would have certainly solved the issue here, but would being able to ban Twitch staff be a good idea for every situation? There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to these types of discussions. However, every Twitch streamer should feel comfortable on their streams. If that means giving streamers more control over what Twitch staff can say in their chats, then Twitch should consider a solution that keeps streamers safe and still keep communication open between streamers and staff memebers.