Both creators were suspended following ASMR streams that pushed the bounds of Twitch’s community guidelines forbidding content that isn’t quite sexual in nature but is still too risqué for a platform deeply self-conscious about its advertising business. The Amazon-owned company declined to comment on the length of the bans or what provoked them, but pointed TechCrunch toward its rules on sexual content.
It’s possible that both Amouranth (Kaitlyn Siragusa) and Indiefoxx (Jenelle Dagres) will be reinstated Monday, 72 hours after their Friday ban, but both channels remained unavailable at the time of writing. Siragusa confirmed to Polygon that she was suspended after a stream in which she did yoga poses while making ear-licking sounds into a microphone.
The so-called “ASMR-meta” on Twitch, where streamers boost their views by whispering into their microphones or producing licking sounds, sometimes while holding yoga poses, follows the controversy around hot tubs on Twitch that exploded last month. In both instances, some Twitch creators believe that the platform’s rules are selectively enforced.
“With ASMR meta and crazy yoga poses, believe it or not I watched two other girls doing it to the tune of 2-5k views without any bans for months before I folded the activity into ASMR creating the infamous ‘ASMR’ meta,” Siragusa wrote on Twitter. “Those other streamers are still unbanned and continue to do it. My sin was taking inaction as a sign of tacit acceptance, and then blowing the top off the secret and hitting 30k viewers.”
Because both the ASMR meta and the hot tub meta were dominated by female streamers, the whole situation has attracted even more misogyny within the Twitch community, where female streamers are still regularly harassed off the platform.
In a blog addressing the proliferation of women streaming from pools and hot tubs at the time, Twitch wrote that “being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules, and Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness.” The company clarified that while a bathing suit in a bedroom might break the rules, “contextually appropriate” swimwear is allowed.
Twitch also acknowledged the complexity of its own difficult to parse rules:
Our intention with the Sexually Suggestive policy was to draw a line on content that is overtly or explicitly sexually suggestive, not to ban all content that could be viewed as sexually suggestive – but we acknowledge that our rules are not as clear as they could be.
Prohibiting every form of content that could be interpreted as suggestive would also result in far more restrictions on the video games and premium content that we currently allow, especially considering the ways that female characters are sometimes objectified or presented in a sexualized manner.
Its solution at the time was to create a “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches” category where that content could live. Most of Twitch’s categories are dedicated to specific games, with most of the platform’s nongaming streams listed in the popular catch-all category “Just Chatting.”
ASMR has its own category, with 2.4 million followers, encompassing ear-tingling ASMR streams that don’t push the boundaries of Twitch’s rules with the more recent crop of those that do. So far, instead of building out a more thoughtful way to corral sexually suggestive content, the company is opting to punish anybody who it decides crosses the line. But it’s possible that could all change: Last month, Twitch said it was working on new policies to further clarify the rules on sexually suggestive content.
Unfortunately for Twitch — and for the female creators disproportionately affected by its uneven policies — the abundance of ear-licking streams suggests that until then, the company will be making these same determinations over and over as it tries to draw a line within a gray area of its own making.