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This article was published on January 7, 2021

Twitch’s PogChamp ban highlights the platform’s growing role in politics

The removal was announced after "the face of the emote" tweeted support for the US capitol rioters

Twitch’s PogChamp ban highlights the platform’s growing role in politics

Twitch has banned the popular PogChamp emote after the person it portrays posted incendiary tweets about the deadly riots at the US Capitol.

In the wake of the police shooting of a female protestor, Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, a professional Street Fighter player who’s depicted in the emote, expressed support for the rioters. He also shared a graphic video of the fatal shooting.

“Will there be civil unrest tonight for the woman who was executed inside the Capitol today, or will the #MAGAMartyr die in vain?” he tweeted.

Twitch responded by banning the emote, but pledged to work with the community to design a replacement.

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“We want the sentiment and use of Pog to live on – its meaning is much bigger than the person depicted or image itself — and it has a big place in Twitch culture,” the company announced on Twitter. “However, we can’t in good conscience continue to enable use of the image.”

Credit: Cross Counter TV
The emote was typically used to express surprise or excitement, both sincerely and sarcastically.

The ban spotlights Twitch’s growing role in politics.

The platform has recently attracted a wide range of pundits and professional politicians, from Chapo Trap House to Donald Trump.

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used it to encourage viewers to vote and raise donations for charity. She’s also protested the military’s attempts to attracts recruits through Twitch.

Activists have also used the platform to engage their communities. The New York Times reported that Twitch had “transformed into an unexpected hub of social activism” after Black Lives Matter protestors used the service to stream their demonstrations.

The company itself has also waded into politics. Twitch recently banned the Confederate flag because of its “historic and symbolic association with slavery and white supremacist groups,” but was rebuked for posting a video supporting BLM as it featured an overwhelming number of white creators. The video was pulled after a public outcry.

Banning PogChamp has also attracted some criticism. But keeping it could have been seen as endorsing the views of Gutierrez. And there are plenty of more likable faces that can replace his.

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