Twitch introduced tags back in 2018 to help viewers discover new streamers. Tag your stream with an appropriate tag and viewers would, in theory, have an easier time finding it.
Now one tag has been targeted by Twitch, with the company deciding to remove it on the basis that the language used is ableist.
The offending tag is "Blind Playthrough" and it is now gone from the platform.
The change was brought to the attention of the wider community by "Aureylian" who works in Community and Creator Marketing at Twitch.
"Happy to see Twitch has listened to everyone who shared feedback and removed the 'Blind Playthrough' tag to encourage more inclusive language for our community," tweeted Aureylian.
Happy to see Twitch has listened to everyone who shared feedback and removed the “Blind Playthrough” tag to encourage more inclusive language for our community.— Aureylian △⃒⃘ (@aureylian) December 4, 2020
You can still use “First Playthrough” or opt to use it in combination with "No Spoilers" for the same sentiment. 💜
Offering suggestions for what streamers could do to convey the same meaning she suggested two options:
"You can still use 'First Playthrough' or opt to use it in combination with 'No Spoilers' for the same sentiment."
Ableist language is language that is widely regarded as offensive to people with a disability. It can also refer to language that is derogatory, abusive or negative about a disability.
Examples would be claiming to be "crippled by debt" if you owed more money than you make or if you referred to that wasn't very good as "lame". These two terms, in some regard, are removed from their original meaning but hold deeply negative connotations and can further stigmatize those who suffer from a disability.
Blind is one of the most commonly used ableist terms, for instance, if you were to "turn a blind eye to an issue", or "walk blindly into trouble" that use of the word would be considered ableist.
Twitch's removal of the term was met with a mixed reaction with some applauding the effort to make the platform more inclusive, while others felt that removing the term "Blind Playthrough" based on it being ableist misunderstood the way the phrase was being used.
"If I say I have a 'blind spot', I don't mean that that's a sh**y spot, I just mean I can't see it. I understand that offensive metaphorical meanings are wrong, but I don't get this case," wrote Twitter user SylviaWriter.
"A blind playthrough uses the other definition from the dictionary," opined TheyCallMeCraig. "'lacking perception, awareness, or discernment.'"
"Why is this a thing?"
Others pointed out how tricky the removal of ableist language can be from your everyday speech, even to those trying their best, pointing out that Aureylian's tweet started with, "happy to see..."
A post on Livestreamfails took the sniping further with user Rasmus32 suggesting that speed run should be the next "problematic" phrase to go.
"As a fat person, I demand they remove the term speed run as my fat ass can't run. It is not inclusive at all. Instead they should use the more appropriate speed playthrough."
The efforts to make things more inclusive shouldn't be mocked, at least not for the effort, but the slippery slope nature of Twitch's latest move is there for all to see. Under Twitch's understanding of ableist language, Speed run IS offensive to people who can't run. The popular IRL stream category "Just Chatting" discriminates the mute.
No one will miss the tag, it's just a tag after all, but streamers on the platform, who are on heightened alert and fearing for their livelihoods as DMCA strikes rain down on years-old content, may be asking themselves where Twitch's priorities lie.