The Amazon-owned game streaming platform Twitch is suing anonymous trolls who posted a slew of harmful and illegal content, including the Christchurch shooting, on the platform late last month. If the company learns the identities of these people, they plan to request the court to prohibit them from using the platform and force them to pay damages, as first reported by Bloomberg.
The videos were posted last month by an organized group of trolls in Twitch’s Artifact category, who are named in the lawsuit as John and Jane Does 1-100. Aside from the video filmed by the Christchurch shooter, trolls also streamed porn, copyrighted movies and television shows, and other illegal and harmful content.
“Over the weekend of May 25, we became aware of a number of accounts engaging in a coordinated attack targeting the ‘Artifact’ game directory to share content that grossly violates our terms of service,” a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement. “We worked with urgency to remove the offending content and suspend all accounts engaged in this behavior, and are taking measures to prevent this from happening on our service in the future.”
The spokesperson continued, “We take these violations extremely seriously—we are pursuing litigation to identify these bad actors, and will take all appropriate actions to protect our community.”
At the time, the trolling campaign was widely reported and resulted in Twitch disabling new accounts from streaming for “almost two days.” Valve’s Artifact card game had been recently named Twitch’s least popular game, and trolls, looking to hop on the meme, organized in Discord chats to troll the category.
It’s an unusual move from a platform and the first of its kind. Other social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will generally work to remove the violating content and ban the users who post it, but not sue them for fear of chilling anonymous activity on the platform. In the case of Christchurch, platforms like Facebook were still working to stop the spread of the video weeks after the shooting occurred.