Twitch channel boosting functionality pushes pornography onto front page

  • 04/04/2022
A screenshot from Twitch
The streaming platform says it's paused the test for "safety-related issues". Photo credit: Supplied / Twitter / thenoosh22

Video streaming platform Twitch has halted channel boosting functionality after it was used to get pornography on the front page of people's recommended feeds.

The programme, Boost Train, enabled fans and viewers of a channel to push it higher on the site by purchasing subscriptions.

It was being tested by a random group of streamers with the intention of being rolled out wider in the future.

"The Boost reward promotes creators' channels to highly visible parts of Twitch. This promotion can help more viewers discover you, your community, and your content," Twitch wrote on its website.

Gamer and Twitch partner 'thenoosh22' was one of the first to spot the problem.

"Hey Twitch. That 'Pay for Promo' thing you introduced just put this on my front page in my recommended...," she wrote, attaching a screenshot which included a set of naked breasts.

That was picked up by users on Reddit, with some reporting similar issues while others seemed disappointed they weren't seeing any pornography.

"I'm sad to report that I'm not getting any t*tties on my homepage. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow," one wrote.

"I mean, it's really ridiculous that Twitch would allow to promote NSFW content on the front page. Just look at that thumbnail in the bottom left, why would they allow this?," wrote another, linking to another explicit image.

Zach Bussey, who covers stories about streaming gamers, said determined trolls were paying for accounts with access to Boost Train in order to get the content on the front page.

Twitch confirmed to website PC Gamer that Boost Train tests had been paused due to "safety-related issues", but didn't confirm it was because of the NSFW content.

One of the accounts streaming sexual content received a three-day ban for doing so, Bussey said.

Unfortunately when that temporary ban ended, the content was immediately boosted back to the front page, which Bussey said was a "hilarious unintended consequence".

"It's an oversight where a system aimed at being flexible for streamers just resulted in more front-page porn," he said.

He also said it showed that Boost Train wasn't dead because the code was still active. It just meant new accounts weren't getting access to it, but existing accounts kept theirs.