Twitch is a great platform. It was my platform of choice when I streamed video games, and I made many friends on it. However, the past few months have not been kind to Twitch.
With the hate raids that they can't control, destructive bots, and now a massive security breach that exposed every user's information, many people wonder if Twitch is still worth the time and effort. However, Twitch isn't the only platform with trouble. Content creators who rely on Facebook and Instagram for their businesses have seen decreased revenue when these platforms have experienced network outages.
Seeing all of this, I couldn't help but wonder how the Facebook outage and the Twitch breach were related and what content creators could do to protect their revenues and personal information.
Given all this, I reached out to Jon Brodsky, the CEO of YouNow, one of the best alternatives to Twitch, to learn more about how the Twitch breach happened, how it related to the Facebook outage, and what the future of online content creation might look like. Here's what he had to say:
1. How and Why Did the Twitch Breach Happen?
It's not clear how the Twitch breach happened. There has been finger-pointing about lax security procedures and not tying up loose ends on products. However, the extent of the breach suggests that the hacker got access to everything at a senior level—most companies have different databases with different security protocols for the breadth of data downloaded from Twitch. It's hard to believe that doesn't exist there, too. Twitch has said that this was a misconfiguration in their AWS server configuration.
Why the breach happened seems more explicit: the hackers wanted to send a message to Twitch and the world at large. According to the Video Game Chronicles, the motivation of the hackers was to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.” This, along with other disruptions, are part of a seemingly growing reemergence of hacktivism.
2. How are the Twitch Breach and the Facebook Outage Related, and How Did Each Impacted Content Creators, Small Businesses, and the Industry as a Whole?
There has yet to be a direct correlation between motivations for the breach and the leak, and the underlying commonalities are the vulnerabilities. Both Twitch and Facebook released common corporate responses to the incidents, but the reasoning behind both incidents boils down to presumably subpar security policies and safeguards.
Revenues in the tens of millions were lost due to the outage due to Facebook's network configuration change that also affected Instagram and WhatsApp. You have to consider partners on these platforms and planned ads, communication that was lost because some parties might not have known or had the means to communicate in other ways. Not having the ability to advertise on Facebook's platform meant numbers were worse for a few hours; not having access to customer feedback was also a bother for some. In the rest of the world, losing WhatsApp is impactful. It's the leading SMS service for many people, and it shuts down some businesses if it's down.
Hopefully, this has inspired both creators and businesses not to put their eggs in one basket, look for alternatives, and diversify their voices.
Twitch earnings were also exposed as well, which is a big highlight of the discussion right now. Some users likely saw this as the potential of what they could be earning or presented negative feelings when comparing what they are earning to their peers. It's things like this, in conjunction with not wanting to be somewhere they feel they will be exposed, that could trigger migrations to other platforms.
Even here at YouNow, we saw a slight jump in people around the time of the Twitch breach that could be attributed to those points. Also, when you consider platforms like YouNow, where a mid-size creator on Twitch would be regarded as a prominent creator, the idea of exploring other options makes sense. You can make more for less.
3. How can Content Creators and Other Platform Users Protect Themselves
Against Data Breaches?
I've had the privilege of working with cyber insurance companies, and so I know exactly what works there to make breaches significantly less likely (and lower insurance premiums):
- First, use a different password for every service.
- Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords. This can be browser-based, but if you want to share your passwords, you're better off using a service like Dashlane.
- Don't write your passwords down on sheets of paper.
- Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible, which will either text you a code or give you an app to let you log in to a site after you've given them your password. I know it's annoying to get a code on your phone to log in to a service, but that's a lot less annoying than having someone hack your life's work.
- Tether to your phone when you're out and about—don't use a public network because that makes you easily susceptible to certain types of hacks. Use your cell network if you can, and if you must use public WiFi, make sure you're on encrypted pages before you send anything.
- Finally, if you're worried about people finding out where you are located, use a virtual private network (VPN) service, making it impossible to see where you are by routing your internet connection through several intermediary networks. The downside of this is that it's usually slower than you're used to with regular networks.
4. What Does the Future of Live Streaming Look Like in a World Filled with Hate Raiders, Hackers, and Huge Corporations that Seem to Take Advantage of the Little Guy?
Users are getting fed up with consolidated power, though, clearly, since that seems to be what partially motivated the Twitch hackers. More user-owned social media is a probable outcome in the future. Creating an environment where everyone feels safe and secure should be the priority.
YouNow started the same time as Twitch—back in 2011—and we take a different approach to live stream video moderation: we are aggressive about enforcing our policies and, more importantly, talking to our users about what they can and can't do on the platform. I, as CEO, am regularly available directly to the community. In the last three weeks, I've done 3 Livestream Q&A sessions with our users as we explain new features, answer questions, and generally get to know our users better.
We're by no means perfect, but safety and accessibility not just to our larger streamers but to our community as a whole are vital. Being a safe place and making it safer every day is a core value proposition for YouNow. And we are, by most measures, a large corporation—we're a top 50 social media app by revenue, and, as best we can tell, we think we're growing faster than many other social media sites out there.
The Future of Content Creation
Despite all the issues, online content creation is a growing industry, and it's easy to see why. It's a way for people to move beyond a traditional job and pursue their passions. Although there are a lot of hurdles to navigate, the concept is not going away.
It's refreshing in a world full of Amazons, Twitches, and Facebooks to see a platform for content creators that cares so much about their creators. Users come to these platforms for the content that is created. It is about the creators, but most large companies do everything they can to squeeze every penny away from the creators who are offering value to the users. Perhaps the future of content creation involves more platforms like YouNow, which creates a more honest and symbiotic relationship between the creator and the platform.
Only time will tell, but it does seem like the more prominent platforms are becoming worse and worse for the creator.
This post originally appeared on Partners in Fire