Thoughts on the Twitch Leak
Another day, another behemoth tech platform going through news day-defining drama.
Today, there was a massive data leak of Twitch that included passwords, payout histories, and even source code. If you have a Twitch account, be sure to reset your password and, if you have not already, add two-factor authentication. Fortunately, as I had two-factor authentication on, the BB the Flying Fox account was never really at risk — not to mention it is still effectively a no-name production where I get excited about eight people watching me at once. So many are talking about how much a select few Twitch streamers make, though the vast majority of Twitch streamers make very little.
Twitch’s paid streaming program comes in two tiers, Affiliate and Partner, the former — which I have as BB — is far easier to earn. Partner, however, requires averaging at least 75 live viewers in the past thirty days while streaming a lot during that time. Though that might not seem like a lot, while many are able to snag Affiliate status, the road to Partner is a long one that most never complete.
Revenue is generated through ads, subscriptions that free viewers from those ads, and “bits,” which enable viewers to donate money on-stream, often in response to exciting things happening on-screen. About 50,000 people subscribe to Hasan, a highly popular socialist Twitch streamer who recently stirred up controversy by buying an expensive Los Angeles home. The revelation he is raking in millions a year is not surprising — even if you have concerns about how his income and spending align with his values.
Hasan recently partnered with popular YouTuber Ethan Klein for a new series. Though Ethan is more comedy and pop culture-focused than Hasan, he has also generated controversy in the past for living large off of his YouTube earnings. The trends on the social media networks are the same, with a handful of people at the top making large amounts of money while most creators on the platform make little. That is not to say you should not support big creators, but do not let the wealth of them deter you from supporting the smaller ones, who often can benefit greatly from the extra support.
Creators both big and small, though, give up significant cuts of the cash collected by their efforts to Amazon (on Twitch) and Google (on YouTube) respectively. These behemoth video services are not operated for the public benefit, but rather to turn a profit, and, in both cases, they are eager to maximize the amount of revenue they can keep. To succeed on these platforms is less a matter of competing with the big players and more demonstrating to the companies — and their recommendation algorithms — that you are worth helping put in front of the eyes of more people.
As discussed in the first-ever article on Smol Farm Gazette, it may be possible to create a successor to the “gig” economy that uses independent, worker-run platforms with standardized ways of distributing data and content amongst themselves. This may even be true of game streaming. But most small creators are so reliant on the fact that so many people see videos recommended by Twitch and YouTube they would not otherwise see, something it would take a lot to replicate well in a decentralized way — though is very possible.
Thus, for better or worse, in the meantime, Twitch and YouTube remain the best options for most people trying to build an online audience for video content — Twitch more live-oriented and YouTube more video on demand-oriented, though both are capable of doing the other — even as the massive tech behemoths behind them take big cuts of creator revenue.
As always, take steps to be proactive about your own security online, especially after data breaches that are publicly known. Much like with the recent Facebook outage, these events show the massive flaws in the current status quo of social media. Just be sure to show your favorite smaller creators some support, even if you envy the millions of those drawing massive audiences. Might I suggest BB the Flying Fox, VTuber streamer of Final Fantasy, farming sims, and more? No? Can’t blame a girl for trying.