Fortnite Star Ninja Left Twitch. Then It Recommended Porn to His Followers.

Video game star Tyler Blevins, known to his fans as “Ninja,” had amassed over 14 million followers on the streaming platform Twitch, thanks to his mastery of the popular game Fortnite. But after he departed the platform for a rival streaming service, viewers who went looking for his Twitch channel on Sunday didn’t get to see their favourite neon-haired gamer – instead, they saw pornography.

Blevin’s Twitch account had been dormant after he announced earlier this month that he was leaving Twitch for Microsoft’s rival streaming platform, Mixer. However, Twitch had been recommending other channels for Ninja fans who could no longer watch their favourite streamer, Kotaku reported, and one of those channels displayed adult content.

Polygon reported that for a time after he announced his move, the link to Blevin’s “Ninja” account page on Twitch led to a 404 error page, where other streams, including the pornography, were recommended. After the controversy erupted Sunday, the link has been restored to a dormant version of the Ninja account.

Blevins expressed his frustration Sunday in a video posted to Twitter, where he has 4.7 million followers.

“There was a porn account that was #1 being recommended on my channel, and I have no say in any of this stuff,” he said. “This is the line, this is the straw.” Angry that his dormant account was being used to promote other Twitch content, he said his team was trying to have his Twitch channel taken down for good, or at least bar other content from being promoted there without his blessing.

In response, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear explained through tweets that the error resulted from an experiment that showed recommended content across Twitch gone awry.

“However, the lewd content that appeared on the @ninja offline channel page grossly violates our terms of service, and we’ve permanently suspended the account in question,” he tweeted. In a subsequent tweet, Shear added a personal apology to Blevins, saying he wanted “to apologize directly to @ninja that this happened. It wasn’t our intent, but it should not have happened. No excuses.”

Twitch is a subsidiary of Amazon, whose chief executive and founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.

Blevins, known for his shock of neon hair and endless stamina for streaming, first entered the gaming arena about a decade ago playing Halo, a universe of military-style video games set in space. He competed in Halo tournaments for several years, eventually moving on to conquer Fortnite, a popular battle royal-style game that has become a mainstay of popular culture.

It was one fateful Fortnite session that launched Blevins into the gaming stratosphere. In March 2018, he streamed with none other than Drake, the rap superstar, and Polygon reported that their stream peaked at about 635,000 viewers.

Blevins has garnered a massive audience through his nonstop gaming. “When I’m not streaming, I have time to reflect on all the growth, and I don’t like that. I’d rather just be home playing,” he told ESPN magazine in a 2018 profile. “I’m like, ‘I haven’t played a celebrity in a while. I haven’t done something big in a while. Is it because I’m slowing down?’ When I’m home, there’s no time to think about that.”

In addition to his millions of Twitter followers and his now-defunct Twitch channel, Blevins has 22 million subscribers on YouTube. By some estimates, he made $500,000 a month from streaming, ESPN reported in 2018.

© The Washington Post 2019

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