Kick streamers consider leaving over CEO’s comments in a sex worker ‘prank’ stream


Streamers are leaving Kick en masse in protest of the platform’s lack of safety guidelines, after a prominent creator streamed an encounter with a sex worker without informing her that there were other people present. She was briefly prevented from leaving after she expressed discomfort, while Kick’s CEO posted laughing emotes in the stream chat. 

“It sucks to see a platform stand behind someone who clearly doesn’t respect sex workers or their safety,” Rachel, a streamer known as TheFoodieWaifu, told TechCrunch. “This was a job for her and to them a game. This woman clearly was afraid and was just trying to work and be safe.” 

Paul Denino, a creator also known as Ice Poseidon, streamed the encounter on September 21. The interactions with the sex worker took place in a living room, while Denino and fellow streamer Sam Pepper hid in an adjacent bedroom. The stream shows another man, named Andy, paying the sex worker $500 and asking for her consent to film. When the encounter became physical, Denino and Pepper made noises behind the door, which startled the woman. She tried to leave after receiving a text about the people in the other room, but Andy stopped her. When Andy reminded her that he had already paid her, she said the encounter was “creepy.” 

“Why is it creepy?” Andy said. “It’s you and me and no one else.” 

In a post days later, Denino disputed claims of a “hidden camera” and alleged that the interaction was legal. Denino streamed from Brisbane, Australia, where sex work is legal in licensed brothels or if a sex worker is working in private and alone. He also posted footage of a call allegedly asking the sex worker he could film her, which she approved for an extra fee. Later in the clip, he tells Andy that he can’t block the sex worker from leaving. 

“Where’s the mention that you two were hiding in the room? Creepy as fuck,” Repzion, another creator who streams on Kick, replied. “Did she consent to that? When she found that out, she left because she was uncomfortable. It’s shitty regardless.” 

Kick has lured disenchanted Twitch streamers away from the platform with non-exclusive streaming deals, light moderation and a coveted 95/5 revenue split. The platform is young, but its first year has been checkered with controversy — starting with its ties to a crypto gambling site also owned by Kick CEO Eddie Craven. The most recent scandal is a wake-up call for many of its streamers — especially women who question if the platform is safe for them at all. 

The platform addressed the incident in a public post earlier this week, affirming that community and public safety “cannot be compromised” in content creation. 

“We’re continuously learning where this balance sits and are making changes daily,” the post continued. “We appreciate our community for the continuous feedback, both the good & the bad. We’ll keep you updated on upcoming changes to community guidelines and subsequent enforcement measures.” 

Kick did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment. In a statement to 404 Media, the company said that they “continuously review and refine” its policies, but may not disclose specific details “for privacy and confidentiality reasons.” 

“We aim to maintain a fair and consistent approach to content moderation while respecting the privacy of our users and employees,” the statement said. 

The company also removed Denino from the front page and featured category, which Bree, another Kick streamer, described as a “start.” Returning to Twitch isn’t an option for her, she said, because of the harassment she faced on the platform.

“Kick’s decision not to ban him does hurt, but I do think that from a business standpoint with contracts involved you can’t just ban someone,” she said in a DM. “I feel like a lot of people are focusing on this while our time could be better spent working together to make our platform better.”

Kick’s pallid response infuriated both streamers and viewers. Bob, a creator known as BobDuckNWeave, described the incident as “just sickening” and criticized the platform’s “non-response.” 

“I understand consent was in fact given by the woman on stream, but the premise alone was bad enough for a site seemingly focused on gaming/creative content,” he said over DM. 

He is one of many streamers who vowed to leave the platform in the aftermath of the incident.

In a thread announcing his departure, he apologized for his association with the platform, and told TechCrunch that he thought it would get better. 

Bob acknowledged that the platform has had a string of controversies in its short existence — most recently, an offensive fake interview between white supremacist sympathizer Adin Ross, accused sex trafficker Andrew Tate and a Kim Jong Un impersonator — and that seeing Craven laughing at the sex worker was “more than enough to stamp out any hope that the platform intends to improve any of its policies.”  

Rachel, who also makes cooking videos on YouTube, also decided to leave Kick despite the opportunities it gave her as a smaller creator. She started streaming on the platform because she was burning out on Twitch, and believed that Kick would figure out stronger moderation with time. 

“I can’t stand behind a platform that thinks it’s OK to view people as objects,” she said in a DM. “I am not saying if folks choose to stay on the platform that they are for encouraging this behavior. I am saying that for me, I can no longer say I stream on Kick. This will be a [financial] hit most definitely, not as much for some bigger streamers, but still enough to feel it with inflation being at its highest right now.” 

But others can’t afford to take the hit, and can’t rely on Twitch alone to pay their bills. 

The default sub (subscription) revenue split for Partners is 50/50, but select streamers were offered a premium 70/30 deal until last year. Twitch cut that deal in favor of the platform’s ad revenue program, which angered many of its most loyal creators. Partners grandfathered into the agreement were still paid a 70% cut of the first $100,000 they earned, and 50% of any revenue after that. 

The platform rolled out a new Partner Plus program this year, which allowed qualifying streamers to apply for the same deal given to streamers grandfathered into the 70/30 split. The steep requirements excludes the majority of Twitch Partners and doesn’t count gifted subs toward the minimum subscription requirement, further straining the relationship between the platform and its creators. Although Twitch adjusted the program so that higher tier subscriptions count for more points toward the minimum subscription requirement, it wasn’t the change that streamers were requesting. 

Kelly, a streamer known as MrsViolence, joined Twitch when it was still operating as Justin.tv. She began streaming full time when she had to step away from her esports coaching and hosting career for her health. Like many streamers who joined Twitch before its explosive pandemic growth, Kelly was offered a 70/30 revenue split. About a year ago, before Twitch axed the premium revenue deal, Kelly’s Twitch income was a little over $1,000 per month (up to $1,200 on a “really good month”) with over 700 paying subscribers. She supplemented her income with tips and OnlyFans subscriptions. 

When the revenue split changes went into effect earlier this year, Kelly’s monthly income fell to about $400. Since she stopped prioritizing her Twitch channel, her monthly Twitch income hovers around $120. That prompted her to start streaming on Kick, where she said she makes over $1,000 per month with only 145 subscribers. 

“That’s covering all of my rent and groceries and then like a night out with my boyfriend,” Kelly said in a call with TechCrunch. “So I don’t care if it’s run by some gambling, underground Dark Web loser. It’s making people money and it’s helping them in the worst economic depression we have ever seen.” 

That’s not to say that Ice Poseidon’s stream didn’t affect her. 

“I broke down in tears,” she continued. “I was like, now I’m part of this website that has pieces of shit running fucking wild and there’s nothing I can do about it, and I refuse to go back and make pennies on Twitch.” 

As a creator who’s been working in the games industry for more than a decade, Kelly said she’ll continue making content wherever she can make money, because her chronic health conditions prevent her from returning to in-person hosting and coaching. She experienced “just as much abuse” as a woman on Twitch, and isn’t optimistic about other livestreaming platforms like Rumble or YouTube. Kelly added that in its early days, Twitch was just as unmoderated and violently misogynistic as parts of Kick are today. The streaming community can’t rely on platforms to operate in the best interest of their creators, she said, and instead has to hope that local governments will step in to regulate safety. 

“I feel very small. There’s nothing we can do and it’s a fight that I think too many people are investing their lives in, and changing their careers over, their money, their income, because of something you can’t change,” Kelly said. “I’m very numb. Desensitized is a great word. I feel for people, I get it. But at the same time I got to survive in this dumb world. Like, gas is up again!” 





Source link

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn
On Key

Related Posts

Scroll to Top