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Twitch sues viewerbot sellers to curb fake popularity ratings

Engadget Engadget 18/06/2016 David Lumb
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Twitch has long been the de facto prime source for streaming video game content, but with popularity comes internet crime. Seedy online outlets are selling bot followers in bulk to make accounts look more popular than they really are, which the streaming service monitors and bans where it can. But enough is enough: Twitch is finally suing seven of the most active sellers of online viewbot services. What's at stake, of course, is money. When an individual account gets popular enough, Twitch considers making them an official partner, meaning they earn money based on their viewership. The company sees this as a positive feedback loop to keep the site's content quality high. Bot services artificially boost the viewer count for an account and populate their chatbox, simulating activity and diverting attention from legitimate accounts. If popularity is manufactured, the Twitch system loses viewers' trust and they'll go elsewhere.

Twitter and Facebook users have been able to buy similar bulk packages of fake followers for awhile, but Twitch's reputation was built on a "by fans, for fans" grassroots legitimacy in which users vote with their views. As the streaming service adds more features to become a robust social destination and announces big eSports partnerships, keeping its community's trust will be key.

But users have to stay honest too, says the company's SVP of Marketing in a post. Ultimately, the best way to stop viewerbot sellers from ruining Twitch is for users to stop buying them. Twitch blog

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