2021’s Hate Raids: Preventing, Responding, Understanding

One of the worst trends of 2021 thus far has been an epidemic of hate raids taking place over streaming platforms like Twitch. The increasing prevalence of the unnecessary and obnoxious overtaking of social channels with hate-fueled rhetoric and messaging has been one of the most problematic issues for LGBTQ+ and minority streamers across Twitch and many other platforms.

But what are hate raids? What can be done to prevent them from occurring in the first place on Twitch? What do you do in the moment if you find yourself the target of a raid? And if you are to fall victim to a hate raid, what is the best course of action to keep your personal safety and security intact? We answer all this and more in the guide below.

Note: The best source of information on hate raid resources and prevention is Hate Raid Response, founded and organized by Twitch streamer and advocate EmilyP.

Concerned about how much information about you is freely available online? Get your data automatically removed from dozens of people search websites and data brokers, and avoid hate raids, for less than the cost of a Netflix subscription with Removaly.

What is a Hate Raid?

Hate raids start in forums, discord servers, and private communities looking to target specific streamer chats on services such as Twitch.

A single streamer link is shared to a community, at which point large numbers of bots or trolls are deployed to post aggressive, racist, homophobic, sexist, and transphobic statements to that streamer’s chat, clogging up communication.

In many cases, this spam includes the private information of the targeted streamers. This information includes addresses, phone numbers, social media profiles, full names, and contact information of family members. While raids against streamers are not a new thing (they’ve been around about as long as streaming has been around), the influx of hate raids on Twitch skyrocketed in the summer of 2021.

Who are the Primary targets of Hate Raids?

For the recent hate raids, these bots and trolls have focused their negative efforts on marginalized voices in streaming communities, specifically black and LGBTQIA+ streamers.

One of the first widespread reports of a Twitch hate raid came from a strong advocate for Removaly, RekItRaven (left).

In a 30-second clip posted to Twitter in late July 2021 (warning: extreme racism in the video), Raven was the target of a raid by bad actors. As a result, she and two other streamers (Lucia Everblack and ShineyPen) organized A Day Off Twitch in protest.

Rallying around the hashtag #adayofftwitch, the Washington Post reported: “On the day of the event, concurrent Twitch viewership peaked at 3.4 million, around 400,000 less than the same day the previous week.”

However, before A Day Off Twitch, Raven started the hashtag #TwitchDoBetter, which remains a strong and stalwart rallying cry for marginalized streamers across the platform.

What are the Risks of Hate Raids?

One of the most obvious risks of hate raids is the stepping stone nature of the attacks. In many cases, these hate raids include the spamming of home addresses and other personally identifiable information (PII in the data removal space). One of the more aggressive and well-known streamer-related attacks is called “swatting“.

Swatting is prevalent enough that it has its own Oxford Dictionary definition: “the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.”

It’s not a siloed problem, and it’s definitely not rare. A quick search alone reveals hundreds upon hundreds of examples. Some standouts include:

The above links are just barely scratching the surface. And all it takes is your home address and a vendetta. While not directly related to streaming or hate raids, it was just last year that Mark Herring, owner of the @tennessee Twitter handle, was swatted by police at his home in Bethpage, and had a fatal heart attack when exiting his home. Per the New York Times:

Someone with a British accent had called emergency services in Sumner County and reported having shot a woman in the back of the head at Mr. Herring’s address. The caller had threatened to set off pipe bombs at the front and back doors if officers came, according to federal court records.The caller was a minor living in the United Kingdom, according to federal prosecutors. But the caller knew Mr. Herring’s address because Shane Sonderman, 20, of Lauderdale County, Tenn., had posted the information online, prosecutors said.

We dive further into the Mark Herring case, and the dangers of Swatting over something as simple as a coveted Twitter handle, in this comprehensive article.

Questions Asked: What is Your Biggest Fear Regarding Hate Raids?

I posed the question “What is Your Biggest Fear Regarding Hate Raids?” to a stalwart and strong group of streamers facing extensive hate raids. Below are some of the responses I received.

  • Response: “I don’t want my wife, daughter, my other partner, or their family to get hurt from this. The fact that people have been attacked in real life via SWAT raids to their actual homes has sent me spiraling.”
  • Response: “For me, everything of the above plus friends, anything I touch too. I can’t even talk to a friend in private without them getting the full load. It’s like I’m tainted and everything I touch will wither soon. And I’m afraid it’ll be like this forever. It has been.”
  • Response: “I’ve been doxxed before and I’m deathly afraid that this will happen again. I don’t want my family and friends to be hurt. However, this is causing me to lose money and mental stability, which is more important to me so I’m trying to be ok and get through the fear.”
  • Response: “Personally, my biggest fear is that my community will get hurt. It is so important to me that community is a place where people go to feel safe and good about themselves, so I’m scared that I’ll get raided and it’ll hurt someone in my community, or break the comfort and safety that folks feel in my community.”
  • Response: “Our biggest fear is not being able to handle the raid and Twitch banning our channel for not managing our chat well enough, as per their terms and conditions. We’ve put so much work into our channel and we’re terrified of Twitch victim-blaming us for others’ actions. It’s enough fear that we haven’t streamed in about three weeks now, and won’t till we have the time and headspace to get some protection in place.”

Concerned about how much information about you is freely available online? Get your data automatically removed from dozens of people search websites and data brokers, and avoid hate raids, for less than the cost of a Netflix subscription with Removaly.

Recent Developments

In August, Twitch finally acknowledged the existence of hate raids via Twitter.

Twitch also stated in a follow-up tweet: “Thank you to everyone who shared these difficult experiences. We were able to identify a vulnerability in our proactive filters, and have rolled out an update to close this gap and better detect hate speech in chat. We’ll keep updating this to address emerging issues.”

Whether or not they take expansive action on hate raids is yet to be determined.

However, in the interim, vigilante coders such as sery_bot have dedicated their time to assisting with the development of extensive, strong bots to help mitigate the propensity of hate raids.

Read more about some of the most effective bots available for hate raid prevention and mitigation at Hate Raid Response.

Twitch has started taking baby steps in an attempt to quell some of the issues marginalized streamers have faced with hate raids for the past few months. They recently (at the end of September 2021) enabled phone verification for stream chats. This can go far in stopping some of the spam, however, there are two issues with this:

  1. The feature is something that streamers must go in and enable themselves, instead of being a feature that is set by default. What this means is that, if you don’t know the feture exists, you won’t know that you can, and how to go about setting it up until you are facing these hate raids. Twitch didn’t broadcast it much beyond a simple tweet, and for good reason from their point of view: less chatting means less revenue overall for Twitch.
  2. For many, it’s already too late. Streamers outside the United States, or with limited access to services such as Removaly to scrub personal information from the Internet, have likely already had their personal address and other information spammed internally in various messaging groups. Outside of physically moving, the damage in many cases has already been done.

Additionally, in mid-September, Twitch sued two users for their harassment and participation in hate raids. Per Techcrunch:

In the suit, Twitch described hate raiders as “highly motivated” malicious individuals who improvise new ways to circumvent the platform’s terms of service. Twitch named two users, “CruzzControl” and “CreatineOverdose,” in the suit but the company was unable to obtain their legal names.

The users are based in the Netherlands and Austria, respectively, and their activity began in August of this year. Twitch alleges that CruzzControl alone has been linked to 3,000 bot accounts involved in hate raids.

Check out the lawsuit via Scribd below:

Twitch Lawsuit by TechCrunch

Our Take on Hate Raids

We live in a world where diversity and inclusion are pivotal in all aspects of life. Harassment, such as online stalking, doxing (exposing someone’s sensitive personal information to harm them), and physical threats, can have a serious impact on one’s mental health.

Many streamers who are present and active in marginalized groups, specifically targeted by these Twitch hate raids, have already experienced mental health struggles as a result of their position in the world. Hate raids serve to unnecessarily exacerbate these problems.

We have watched some of the more unsavory raids and results, with people’s addresses being posted with photos of their house on Google Street View (you can blur this by the way), stating that “your gift is ten pipe bombs!”.

We asked Raven about her thoughts on the unnecessary effects of hate raids. Her message: “People shouldn’t be judged or hated for identifiable markers that they had no control over. No one wakes up and CHOOSES their skin color, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or otherwise. No one should feel fear to exist and take up space and we owe it to ourselves and people like us to fight against discrimination for ourselves and others like us”

Regardless of what hate raids growth or decline has in store, Removaly is dedicated to doing all we can to assist those facing hate raid and doxing-related issues prevalent in the streaming community. Our Removaly for Streamers page has extensive information and resources available, as well as an offer for a discount on our services. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about hate raid related mitigation in general, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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