Video game streaming platforms investigating allegations of sexual harassment and racism

National News

Twitch, Microsoft, YouTube (NBC) (06/24/20)— Several major companies that either stream or work with video games, including Twitch, Microsoft, and YouTube, said they were investigating recent allegations of misconduct that surfaced online in recent days, according to statements.

Over the weekend, a host of sexual misconduct and racism allegations were made against many in the video gaming world, some of whom use Twitch, YouTube, and other platforms.

On Sunday, streaming service Twitch said it would look into claims of sexual harassment by its users, business partners, and others, according to statements from the company.

“We take allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct very seriously,” Twitch said in a statement on Twitter. “We are actively looking into the accounts concerning streamers affiliated with Twitch and will work with law enforcement where applicable.”

Twitch’s CEO Emmett Sheer also tweeted a company-wide email, saying that all accusations of misconduct were being investigated.

“We support people coming forward, commend their bravery in doing so, and know there are many others who have not,” Sheer said in the statement.

Sheer added that while they couldn’t make all the details of the investigation public, Twitch was working “with urgency to address them” so the platform could be accessible and safer to all who use it.

Twitch did not respond to a request for additional comment made by NBC News.

Users of other platforms were also hit with various allegations. Several YouTubers were accused of sexual harassment and misconduct.

YouTube declined to comment to NBC News but said it was investigating the accusations.

Mixer, Microsoft’s streaming service, announced on Monday it was shuttering and would redirect to Facebook Gaming.

“We’ve decided to close the operations side of Mixer and help the community transition to a new platform. To better serve our community’s needs, we’re teaming up with Facebook to enable the Mixer community to transition to Facebook Gaming,” Mixer said in a blog post.  

The shutdown of Mixer was unrelated to the accusations leveled against it.

But prior to this announcement, Milan K. Lee, a former employee, leveled accusations of racism against Mixer, saying he was “one of the only Black people” working at the company during his tenure.

He also claimed managers made racist statements and that after an internal investigation that manager was not penalized.

Phil Spencer, the executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft, replied to Lee, thanking him for coming forward.

“If willing, can we connect so I can learn and understand more? Racism will not be tolerated on our teams or on our services,” Spencer said. In the replies, Lee agreed to the meeting.

Microsoft also told NBC News in a statement that it does not tolerate discrimination.

“We do not tolerate any form of discrimination and thoroughly investigate all employee concerns. We do not discuss the details of such investigations,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Allegations of discrimination and harassment are not new in the gaming world.

In 2019, NBC News spoke with a dozen women at the Twitch Convention in San Diego, TwitchCon, who all said they had experienced harassment on the platform.

At the time, Twitch said it had added additional moderators to its moderation team in order to better handle the claims of harassment.

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