Twitch is no stranger to toxic chat filled with racism, sexism and just about any other ‘ism’ you can think of, making the implementation of an official Kentucky Fried Chicken emote all the more bizarre. It took mere hours for the new KFC emote to be devolved in such a way as to play up to outdated, offensive stereotypes, leading to further discussions about how to deal with toxicity online.
The promotion started off innocently enough, with KFC working in conjunction with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds streamers Sacriel, Sequisha, Dr. Lupo and Anthony Kongphan as they all competed to win as many elusive ‘Winner Winner Chicken Dinners’ as possible. Those that spammed the emote when players got close to the winner’s circle during the streams could potentially bag themselves KFC gift cards for their own, real chicken dinner.
Unfortunately, this emote was global, meaning that anyone with a Twitch account could access it and take the emote out of context. Just a few hours after it was implemented, it was rampantly used alongside an emote of streamer Trihex’s face, which on its own is already abused in a particularly racist way to denote specifically when a black person is on screen.
Image: Trihex on YouTube
“I feel bad for POCs (people of color) right now on Twitch who can’t look past that,” explained Trihex upon finding out how the new emote was being used alongside his own. “Someone’s gotta get it together, man. I’m laughing because I’m like dying inside. Do, like, no black people work at Twitch? What else do I even say to that?”
Trihex has already acknowledged that his emote has been used in “for racism a lot,” claiming late last year that “it’s not the emote’s fault that it’s being used for racist things,” which is why the emote remains. Similarly, the KFC bucket of chicken emote is also not at fault for the horrendous connotations that the community is pushing when using them in simultaneously.
Twitch has promptly removed the KFC emote, but many are still surprised that the platform would add such an emote in the wake of this month’s Overwatch League controversy. Professional player Félix “xQc” Lengyel was dismissed from his team after using Trihex’s emote to publicly ridicule Overwatch League caster Malik Forte, despite Lengyel’s claims that he was unaware of any negative connotations surrounding the emote.
It is even more confusing given that Twitch has recently updated its Community Guidelines, pinning streamers as responsible for their own communities. This has led to many outright banning emotes in their chat, as well as the people attempting to use them in malicious ways. If not, communities, organisations and individuals risk being suspended.
Hopefully, Twitch will have a brighter future concerning toxic behaviour online as it is one of the 30+ big brands to form the Fair Play Alliance, an organisation dedicated to collaboration in its battle against toxic behaviour online.
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KitGuru Says: It is Twitch’s responsibility to be mindful about how it proceeds but I personally think this shines a giant spotlight on the festering communities that Twitch truly is attempting to deal with. Hopefully this leads to more changes on the platform to rid it and therefore other online spaced of people who simply don’t know or don’t care how to conduct themselves. Do you think the blame falls on Twitch?