Twitch just gets bigger and bigger – they were acquired by Amazon, who paid $970m in 2014, narrowly beating out Google in a frenzied bidding war. And where the money goes, the fraud follows…in the form of Twitch view botting.

What is Twitch View Botting?

Twitch is the world’s largest streaming platform. Founded in 2006 as Justin.TV for content creators of all types, it was renamed and rebranded in 2011 primarily as a platform for viewers and subscribers to watch their favorite streamers playing vbotideo games.

And it’s popular with advertisers too, who spent $750m in 2020 alone to get their ads in front of Gen Z and millennial eyeballs.

Content creators on Twitch rely on viewers and subscribers to generate revenue. While Twitch offers a range of ways to monetize this attention, including affiliate marketing, subscribers, and viewer donations, all these revenue streams depend on getting as many people to watch your streams as possible.

With the vast sums of money potentially on offer to popular streamers, it should come as no surprise that large numbers of people are gaming the system. Using bot services provided by 3rd parties, streamers can artificially inflate their viewing figures. 

Twitch view botting provides unscrupulous streamers with two unfair advantages. 

Firstly, they’ll be paid for the artificial views and subscribers resulting from the bot activity.

Secondly, they’ll be pushed higher in the rankings for their chosen niche – which means they’ll attract more human viewers (because people trust that the popular streamers are more worthy of attention).

How Does Twitch View Botting Work?

Nothing could be simpler. A Google Search for ‘Twitch view bot’ will show you all the many, many companies looking to deliver Twitch view botting services. 

There’s paid ads at the top of the page, there’s ‘10 best twitch view bot providers 2023’ guides – all the things you’d associate with a legitimate business activity, rather than a cynical, deceitful tactic that mangles advertising revenues for hundreds of real businesses, and undermines the user experience of the platform itself.

The marketing materials and positioning of these view bot providers are indistinguishable from any other SaaS provider – one website we clicked on was boasting about their many TrustPilot reviews, apparently oblivious to the irony.

We screenshotted a pricing plan for one of the most established providers (no names here, obviously);

As you can see, the more money a streamer is prepared to pay, the more sophisticated the tactics used by the botmaster to fake engagement with the streamer’s content.

The terminology is different, but if we substitute ‘IP cloaking’ for ‘traffic origin’, and ‘machine learning’ for ‘custom chatlog’ or ‘join interval’, we can see that these twitch view bots, follow bots, and chat activity bots are very similar functionally to the bots used for click fraud in Google Ads and elsewhere.

A streamer looking to cheat at Twitch (in direct violation of Twitch’s terms and conditions) merely has to provide their bank details and their streamer account, and these parasitic companies will take care of the rest.

types of twitch bots

Types of View Bot

Bots on Twitch can be divided into three categories.

Twitch View Bots serve the most basic function required by streamers – artificially inflating the viewing figures for a stream. View bots can be fairly unsophisticated, as Twitch streams can be watched by anyone on the internet, without the need to register for an account.

Twitch Follow Bots provide streamers with fake followers. These are more valuable than views, as the number of followers remains as a constant indicator of the perceived worth of a streamer, rather than the number of current views on a stream, which goes up and down all the time. 

Follow bots also require that an account be created, which involves more work for the botmaster.

Twitch Chat Activity Bots involve the greatest amount of work and time for the botmaster – as you can see from the pricing plan above, they’re reserved for the ‘pro’ or premium services. 

They’re also often a dead giveaway for eagle-eyed bot spotters – Twitch is primarily a community-based platform, and artificial-sounding comments that don’t account for context or tone, or fail to respond accurately to back-and-forth conversation with the streamer are fairly easy to detect.

The Effects Of View Botting

In the words of one Reddit user, ’if someone has to bot to get people in their channel, they will always have to bot.’

Twitch view bots are a massive annoyance to the Twitch community. Those who use bots are held in contempt by users like the Reddit commenter above. And unscrupulous streamers don’t just use them to boost their own views – they’ll also use view bots as a weapon, targeting competitors to ‘frame’ them and get them banned from Twitch for viewbotting.

Twitch view bots are also a major spanner in the works for advertisers, too. Twitch is a hugely exciting, lucrative place to advertise – the platform is actively used by 50% of millennial American males. But it’s a challenging space with fast-moving trends, and unwary advertisers who aren’t immersed in the culture can quickly find themselves in situations they’d have rather avoided.

Twitch view botting presents three main problems for advertisers.

Wasted ad spend. Your Twitch campaigns are only going to lead to conversions if they’re shown to human users. 

Inflated metrics. Choosing the right streamers for partnering and affiliation requires careful research and an understanding of the platform – just because someone’s got the necessary stats to qualify for Twitch Affiliate or Partner status, doesn’t mean they’re legit. If someone’s twitch view botting, then advertisers can be easily misled into backing a dud.

Skewed analytics. It’s harder to judge the performance of your campaigns when view bots are inflating your metrics and distorting your conversion rates.

effects of Twitch view botting

Is Twitch View Botting Illegal?

As with so many bot-related practices, Twitch view botting isn’t against any existing laws. Artificially driving engagement and distorting perceptions of popularity is shady business – but it’s not criminal.

That doesn’t necessarily protect 3rd party Twitch view bot providers from civil action, however. Remember we mentioned Twitch was owned by Amazon? As you can imagine, Amazon doesn’t tend to shy away from legal confrontations to protect its interests.

Twitch successfully sued Michael and Katherine Anjomi, on the grounds that their view bot services may cause Twitch to; 

‘lose its carefully developed reputation as the premier service for quality social video game content, the ability to attract and retain users, and the goodwill of the community.’

The couple were instructed to hand over $1.3m by the court. While this was certainly a victory for the platform, the wording of Twitch’s claim carefully omits any reference to lost advertising revenue. So, needless to say, none of the advertisers who were doubtlessly affected by the Anjomis’ actions are likely to be compensated any time soon. 

And even a giant like Twitch/Amazon, with its fearsome legal team, struggles to successfully sue, having lost similar cases related to Twitch view botting in Germany and elsewhere.

View Bots On TikTok, Insta, YouTube, etc…

View botting is nothing new – advertisers have been plagued by view bots (and woefully weak bot protection methods) over on YouTube for the best part of a decade now.

As video’s popularity as the content form of choice has risen, year after year, view botting has become endemic on pretty much every platform that relies on video content. The meteoric ascendance of TikTok as the video platform of choice has resulted in more bots on TikTok than perhaps any other platform.

However, the rapid growth of Twitch (from 1.26m users in 2019 to 2.63m in 2022), in addition to the greater potential for monetization of views, means that Twitch is likely to soon become the view botter’s platform of choice.

Is There A Way To Block View Bots?

As evidenced by the hard-won civil action against the Anjonis’ in 2018, Twitch are serious about combating view bots. Their official guidance includes specific instructions on how best to file a report about view botting, with recommendations to take screenshots and video evidence.

The community also takes view botting very seriously, and efforts to self-police have resulted in some interesting ‘tools’ that use metrics like the number of viewers vs. the number of chatters on a channel to draw spurious conclusions. 

The general consensus, however, seems to be that reporting suspected Twitch view botting directly to the platform is likely to produce the best results, i.e. account suspension and a permanent ban on the guilty party.

Any streamers experiencing unwanted bot activity on their channel can remedy the situation, using either of the following courses of action;

  • Changing their status from ‘playing’ to ‘not playing’ on their dashboard. This removes you from the game directory.
  • Restarting your stream. This means bots have to try and find you all over again.

However, this method of disruption for the bots also means disruption for both the streamer and their human viewers, so persistent problems will still need reporting.

The best way for advertisers to combat the problem of view bots, follow bots, and chat activity bots is by educating themselves. Learning about how to spot bot activity, and then adjusting your ads to suit will hopefully save you some money. A solid understanding of how view botters use each specific platform is also important.

For example, on Twitch, the telltale signs of bot activity include;

  • High viewing figures, with low chatter numbers.
  • High subscriber to low view ratios.
  • Repetitive and vague comments unrelated to the stream activity

Advertising on Twitch is definitely an exciting opportunity – but it’s not for the faint of heart. Playground tactics and attitude are part of the toolkit – and the better you understand the community, the easier it is to spot the bots and the fakers, and respond accordingly.

Twitch View Botting – FAQs

Does Twitch have viewer bots?

Without doubt. In 2021, Twitch announced the removal of 7.5m bots – and as the platform continues to grow massively, it’s almost certain that bot activity will grow too.

How to check if someone is view botting on Twitch

Despite some community-led attempts to develop automated detection methods and tools, it’s almost impossible to conclusively determine whether another user is view botting. The best response is to report your suspicions to Twitch.

How to get rid of view bots on Twitch

While changing your playing status on the dashboard, or restarting your stream will interrupt bot activity on your channel, this solution is disruptive for viewers and streamers (and isn’t an option at all for advertisers). Again, contacting Twitch to report your suspicions is your best solution.

How to remove view bots from Twitch

Filing a user report (see below) will raise the issue with Twitch, which has an extremely responsive customer service team.

How to report Twitch streamer for view botting

You can report a streamer directly from their channel, using the menu available by clicking the three dots in the top right corner (bottom right on desktop). Twitch recommends that you include the date, time, a detailed description of the issue, game names, and any screenshots or VOD that supports your complaint.

What are twitch viewer bots?

Twitch viewer bots are simple software scripts that allow streamers to simulate human viewers. Other bots used on Twitch include follow bots, which simulate Twitch followers and chat activity bots, which simulate chatter on the streamer’s channel. These non-human simulations are used to make a streamer’s channel appear more popular than it really is.