What The Tech: What Is Twitch

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The deadly shooting in a Buffalo, NY supermarket over the weekend was live-streamed over the online platform “Twitch”. That’s causing a lot of people to ask “What is Twitch?”. If you don’t know, don’t feel bad. The social network platform is primarily used by teenagers and video gamers.

That being said, here’s everything about Twitch that you should know:

Twitch is insanely popular. The platform states that over 2.5 million viewers are watching live streams on apps or websites at any given moment. It also states that an average of 31 million people view videos on the platform at least once a day.

The platform launched as a video streaming service for video gamers to stream their gameplay to other users. Watching people play video games is much like sports fans watching games. If you play video games, you can learn from experienced gamers tricks and tips to help you play games with more success.

Almost every game is being live-streamed 24/7. From the most popular games such as “Apex”, “Fortnight” and “Elden Ring”, to sports games and simulators.

Every video gamer I know spends time on “Twitch”.

It isn’t all fun and games though. Along with the video game streams, there are live news broadcasts, talk shows, musicians playing their songs and taking requests, and artists doing sketches, paintings, and online graphics.

There are plenty of chat channels where hosts engage with viewers, answering their questions, study buddies, and ASMR channels which are mostly young, attractive, and sometimes scantily clad women whispering and kissing into microphones.

Many Twitch streamers or creators make money from the platform through subscriptions and donations. Most don’t earn an absurd amount of money but some Twitch creators are making a very good living with their channels. One of the more popular Twitch creators/streamers, Ninja, reportedly earned over $1.3 million from 2019 to 2021.

Some live streams are intended for mature audiences, but anyone of any age can still watch by licking “okay” unless their account is restricted. (“Twitch” makes it clear users must be 13 years old or older).

There are chat windows, where viewers can respond and chat with one another. Users can also send direct messages to other users. Since it is live, there is quite a bit of profanity in some chat rooms.

Twitch has increased monitoring for hate messages and sexual content.

Amazon paid nearly 700 million dollars for Twitch 8 years ago. A premium Twitch account comes free with an Amazon Prime subscription.

Is it safe for kids? Any platform that allows users to stream live video is vulnerable to bad language and content many parents don’t want their kids to see. There is always a risk that someone will do or say something that is inappropriate for children. That’s true not just for Twitch but any other live-streaming platform.

Twitch encourages parents to monitor their kids’ use of the platform and tell them what you expect. Parents should also block direct messages from people they don’t know.

Twitch says the live stream of the Buffalo shooting was taken down from the platform less than 2-minutes after the violence began