Twitch Leadership Tries, Fails to Ease Concerns About ‘Deer’ Person Adviser

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Twitch tried to downplay concerns over an advisory board member who identifies as a deer and believes many gamers are “white supremacists.”

Twitch, the platform for watching internet celebrities broadcast as they play video games, lit fire to a cultural powder keg in mid-May. The company appointed a transgender streamer who identifies as a deer among its “Safety Advisory Council.” Now it’s trying damage control.

Steph “FerociouslySteph” Loehr, who is listed as a “Professional Community Leader” with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), was the center of the controversy. Since then, Twitch has responded to the backlash with a follow-up blog on May 19 that tried to downplay the council’s power.

Loehr could be seen in a variety of disturbing clips which make internet users wary of Loehr’s leftist agenda and, well, lots more. In one, Loehr wore antlers while broadcasting and explained: “In my spare time, I go out to my yard, and I, and I prance around. And I eat grass.”

Loehr also warned in a clip that “I have power,” and that “there are some people that should be afraid of me. And that they are, because I represent moderation and diversity.” Twitch’s May 14 blog announcement listed the Loehr’s “fight for inclusivity” includes “creating a competitive team composed entirely of marginalized gamers, and vehemently opposing non inclusive mechanics such as voice chat.”

After the controversy erupted, Twitch appears to have tried to downplay the council’s role in moderating the platform to the public in a May 19 blog. It explained that, in retrospect “we could have been clearer about tasks the council will not be involved with.”

The blog made some confusing statements about the council’s actual power of influence,

“Council members will not make moderation decisions, nor will they have access to any details on specific moderation cases. They are not Twitch employees, and they do not speak on Twitch’s behalf.”

The announcement also added that “Nevertheless, we believe that having diverse viewpoints will make the council and its recommendations stronger, and ultimately better for our community.”

It’s difficult to believe this formation because the original announcement claimed that “The Safety Advisory Council” would “inform and guide decisions made at Twitch by contributing their experience, expertise, and belief in Twitch’s mission of empowering communities to create together.” It specified that the tasks of the appointed members would be:

  • Drafting new policies and policy updates

  • Developing products and features to improve safety and moderation

  • Promoting healthy streaming and work-life balance habits

  • Protecting the interests of marginalized groups

  • Identifying emerging trends that could impact the Twitch experience

As geek culture blog Bounding Into Comics observed with some skepticism:

“That doesn’t really make any sense. How are they supposed to help develop ‘products and features to improve safety and moderation’ if they don’t have access to details on specific moderation cases. How are they supposed to draft new policies and policy updates without seeing what exactly Twitch is doing?”

Censorship Project