via Wikimedia Commons
Twitch is a live video platform that people commonly use to watch or stream gaming. Twitch streamers have recently furious over Burger King exploiting a Twitch bot for self-promotion. Twitch has a text-to-speech bot that reads messages out loud for the viewers and streamers to hear. The bot will read messages when the user donates at least $5. This is used as a way for fans to interact with their favorite streamer. Recently, several streamers have been donated $5 by a user called “The King of Stream”. Instead of hearing a regular fan message, the bot started reading out new Burger King deals. Usually, this type of exposure would cost thousands of dollars, which is a lot more than five. One streamer said, “So are you going to sponsor me or not?” with Burger King replying, “We just gave you five bucks!”
Another reason why this is so bad is that companies also need to have an agreement with the streamer. Ross O’Donovan, also known as Rubber Ninja, says, “You have to disclose that it’s an ad to your viewers.” He went even as far as saying that it could be considered an RTC violation. Many streamers say that this is very “low-class,” “scummy,” and “exploitive.” Many streamers require these sponsorships to make a living, and the loss of these possible sponsorships such as Burger King’s can lead to some financial issues. Burger King has since released a promotional video with clips of several streamers reacting to being given these self-advertisement donations. The video shows about eight streamers, but the amount of streamers is unknown as a few streamers with negative reactions were cut from the video.
A big question now is whether Burger King will save thousands of dollars, or will the streamers get the last laugh. The Twitch terms of service say that the bot should not be used to self promote or advertise. They also violate the terms of service of Streamlabs, which is the 3rd party streaming software of Twitch. Unfortunately for people on the streamer’s side, Twitch and Streamlabs can’t do anything against Burger King. The most they would be able to do is ban the account, which Burger King might have already deleted. There is another law against interrupting an on-going piece of content, but these laws are outdated and only apply to satellite TV broadcasting. Although this is an unethical thing to do, no law makes this illegal.
The streamers do have one thing on their side: the ability to ignore the donation or shame them live on stream. Although the streamers won’t win a legal battle, they can likely get things like this to stop by just ignoring the self-promotions.