Let me start by making a grim confession: until a few days ago, I have never heard or known what Twitch is or how it works. Maybe that is because I don’t play online games at all. Twitch came within my radar after the firm decided to tackle makers of online bots that increase or inflate views artificially.
At first I thought the folks at Twitch were crazy to tackle makers of these bots. I mean these were online softwares that could be made by someone in a back alley in Indonesia. How could you take a person like that to court. But Twitch knew something I don’t. Obviously.
What are These Bots?
Although it may not seem like a lot to most people, inflating view count using bots is very common. And it is big business in the online world where videos and other products depend on number of views to make money. It happens on YouTube a lot. Though YouTube now has a policy that starts moderating the number of views a video gets when it reaches 301. Putting a video under moderation is to make sure real people are actually watching the videos and not just some program inflating the view-count.
How does this affect anything you may want to ask? Basically it is all about making money through ads. The more views a video gets, the more likely ads would be featured on it. Also, higher view-counts would make a particular video more prominent. Or to put it another way, the video becomes more visible in the rankings. These are the videos you tend to see first. And the more visible a video, the more likely more people would click on them. In a nutshell, that is why Twitch is fighting. They claim using bots to improve ranking is cheating in so many ways.
What is Twitch
Live streaming video is what Twitch is all about. Owned by Amazon, it was launched in 2011 to stream live video games. Now musical contents, esports broadcasts, creative content and video on demand are all part of the app which is compatible on all platforms.
Since it’s launch, Twitch has become very popular with 1.5 million broadcasters and over 100 million visitors per month. In the US, it is among the top five when it comes to internet traffic during peak hours. And as of June this year, it ranked 106 on Alexa.
So seeing all that, I downloaded and installed Twitch to see was it was all about. Everything went smoothly on my old Jelly Bean Android phone. I clicked on the third channel on the list, not because I know the game, but because I needed to see what was going on. The channel opened, and after a few seconds the video commenced. Truth is, Twitch is addictive. I almost lost myself watching the online game unfolding while some experts in the background provided running commentary.
There is even a chat box where friends and users could exchange messages in real time. You need to sign in to enjoy that feature though.
The Suit Against Bots
The Twitch case against the makers of these bots was announced in a blog post by Matthew DiPietro, Senior vice president in charge of marketing. The blog post said that it had already filed the suit to sue seven of the top Sellers of these video views-inflating softwares. However, according to the post, it would continue the practice of moderating videos manually to make sure bots are not giving undue advantage to some videos:
We at Twitch are well aware that view-bots, follow-bots, and chat-impersonation bots are a persistent frustration. Exploited by a small minority, these services have created a very real problem that has damaging effects across our entire community…..
First, we employ a range of technological solutions to detect false viewers and remove them. This is an ongoing effort that requires regular maintenance and engineering, and one we’re dedicated to continuing and making even more effective.
Second, our moderation, support, and partnerships teams regularly investigate reports of artificially inflated viewer and follower counts, as well as fake chat activity, and respond to them on a case-by-case basis.
Today we are adding a third layer. We are taking the next step toward protecting Twitch viewers and broadcasters from the damaging effects of this kind of malicious activity by taking public legal action against seven of the most active sellers of viewbot services.”
The issue of video-inflating bots or softwares actually affects most blogs on the internet. Many content providers invest in them in the mistaken belief that these bots would help them rank higher in search engines. Sometimes it works in the short run. Most times it doesn’t. In the long run, quality content is all that matters.
photo credit: verge.com; searchengineland.com