Twitch is a popular platform among the esports community. Many popular players use the site to livestream their games and connect with their fans, but a recurring phenomenon known as “swatting” is putting them in harm’s way.
Twitch allows esports players and casual gamers to get exposure, receive donations, and most importantly connect with their fans through live chats, all the while doing what they love by playing video games. Streaming live gets thousands of fans as close to their favorite players as digitally possible, making it a more in-touch experience between fan and player. Yet some viewers in the livestream take advantage of this interconnectedness by doing something known as “swatting”.
Swatting is when people obtain the information of the live streamer, and make fake calls to the police claiming that the streamer is up to dangerous activities. Bomb threats are the most common accusations that swatters use against streamers. This results in SWAT teams raiding the home of the streamer, battering down their door, throwing flash grenades, and handcuffing the streamer with assault rifles pointed at their head on live video.
People do this to streamers they do not like, but in most cases it is done simply for the amusement of the viewer, while at the incredible dismay of the streamer. It has happened to dozens of high-profile streamers like Summit1G, ImGoreJess, and Mhova. Not only does swatting put streamers in danger, it also misleads law enforcement. Recently, controversial Twitch streamer Ice_Poseidon was swatted on a plane, inconveniencing him, the police, as well as the hundreds of other passengers onboard.
In Connecticut, the Senate is working to pass a law to make swatting a federal felony. In 2015, one swatter was caught and later sentenced to five years in prison.