Cybersecurity researcher Daylam Tayari has found code within Twitch’s internal API that suggests that the streaming site plans to define “Brand Safety Scores” for individual streamers. The score appears to grade how brand-friendly a streamer is, using variables such as the age of the streamer (whether they’re 18 or older, or 21 or older), their ban history, their relationship with Twitch, how the channel implements Automod, the ESRB rating of the game being streamed, whether the channel is set to mature audiences, as well as a manual rating and keywords for the channel set “by a Twitch-affiliated reviewer.”
In the code, the score is referenced in relation to ads. A comment reads: “Grabs the Brand Safety Score of a channel as well as relevant data used to calculate it. Also returns custom parameters about this channel to forward to VAES for ad targetting purposes.”
Twitch has added an automatic Brand Safety Score which grades how brand friendly every streamer is based on things like chat behavior, ban history, manual ratings by Twitch staff, games played, age, automod and more (See below).1/5 pic.twitter.com/VBl4HjGv7tMarch 9, 2021
Allowing advertisers to avoid having their ads appearing alongside content they find objectionable is fairly standard practice on the web. In theory, this allows advertisers to ensure their ads find an appropriate audience. In past practice, on platforms such as YouTube, this has limited the income potential of video creators who produce content for mature audiences, or who discuss news topics considered controversial.
Since Tayari’s posts on Twitter, there’s been a great deal of speculation on social media about what this Brand Safety Score will or won’t be used for. It seems likely that it may be used with Twitch’s Bounty Board, a program that lets streamers automate the process of brand deals by playing games or watching videos with their audience for a payout. It’s also possible that it’s simply meant to build an easier way for brands to find streamers they want to sponsor—for example, in the United States, an alcohol brand would only advertise on the channel of a streamer 21 or older. For streamers, though, the idea that a hidden ratings system that could affect their opportunity to earn is a scary one.
Twitch hasn’t said anything about the code, and any theories about it are all speculation for now. We’ve contacted Twitch for more details on the nature of this code, and will update this article if we receive a response.
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