Great news for sexy people at last today, as Twitch has made clear that “being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules.” This landmark decision in sexiness rights comes as part of a larger acknowledgement of the rise of “Hot Tub Streamers” on the platform, i.e., people who sit in swimwear in hot tubs for their Twitch streams, usually in the non-games-focused “Just Chattin’” category.
At the risk of generalizing, the whole hot tub thing has typically been seen as a way to interface with (and, some might argue, get around) Twitch’s strictures on nudity, which state that a streamer can only broadcast in revealing swimwear if it’s “contextually appropriate,” i.e., you’re somehow immersed in water. That, in turn, is part of a much wider, and more incendiary, conversation about the roles of sexuality, parasocial attraction, and more on the platform, as well as the ways that paths that are often primarily utilized by women are much more likely to be met by censure, both from the Twitch community, and the company itself.
See, for instance, the recent news that several hot tub streamers have had advertising pulled from their streams, massively reducing their ability to monetize their content. In the announcement today, Twitch acknowledged that it allows advertisers to declare types of content they don’t want their products advertised on (although it also stated that it does “not permit brands to use protected characteristics as a filter for advertising targeting or blocking,” which feels somewhat nebulous). Twitch also acknowledged that it failed its streamers by not informing them that their ads were about to be pulled.
For now, a stopgap measure: Any streams that feature broadcasters in swim attire will go in a special section, labeled “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches,” that advertisers can opt in or out of. But the wider conversation about the use of sexuality in regards to attracting followers, views, and corresponding ad payments—which, as Twitch itself acknowledges, is so massively subjective as to be rendered borderline meaningless—is still to come, and is unlikely to get any less messy from here on out.