Several extremely disturbing videos uploaded to YouTube Tuesday night and Wednesday morning purport to be audio of a user on the video game website Twitch beating a woman as she screams and pleads for him to stop. The videos are generating a fair amount of online outrage, including on Reddit and Twitter; in the meantime, it remains unclear if the man has been identified and if the woman he can be heard abusing is safe.
Twitch is a wildly popular site where people livestream themselves playing or talking about games. It’s also been the site of some fairly terrifying “pranks,” like when a livestreamer was raided by the cops after someone swatted him, which means making a fake 911 call meant to draw law enforcement to his home.
The Twitch streamer purportedly heard abusing his girlfriend went by JoeDaddy505; his channel is now closed, with the listed reason being “terms of service violations.”
The videos that have been uploaded to YouTube are just audio ripped from JoeDaddy’s stream, with no video. Gamers on places like Reddit’s r/gaming are guessing that JoeDaddy believed his stream to be turned off when he began arguing with his wife or girlfriend.
The audio lasts about six minutes. The man being streamed from JoeDaddy’s account sounds extremely intoxicated and can be heard calling the woman a “bitch, a “whore” and a “slut,” making derogatory remarks about her vagina, and accusing her of cheating. She can be heard crying, screaming, and saying, “Get off me” and “I’m going to call the cops.” At times, she’s screaming so wildly it’s impossible to make out what she’s saying. It’s unclear whether the woman was also being sexually assaulted; many commenters on YouTube and Reddit have speculated that’s the case. After listening to the audio, we can’t rule it out. (We are not linking directly to it, for many obvious reasons.)
The audio of the incident seems to be spreading widely after getting picked up by a YouTuber named KeemStar, who has 780,000 Twitter followers and does an online broadcast called Drama Alert. (He’s no stranger to controversy himself. Nearly 20,000 people signed a petition calling for him to be banned from YouTube, accusing him of racism and of fabricating news; the petition specifically claims he has falsely accused several people of pedophilia.)
Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts associated with the individual who went by JoeDaddy on Twitch have mostly been scrubbed. (The “JoeDaddy505" Twitch account shows a man with a goatee and a star tattoo; the Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts with the same username also use that same photo, and the latter two identify the user as a gamer.) A cache of his Instagram describes him as a “New Mexico living” God enthusiast who also enjoys art and his children. (The “505" part of JoeDaddy’s username is also New Mexico’s area code, and he has a strong and distinct regional accent.)
Since the audio started gaining traction online, plenty of Internet tough guys are offering to find him and beat him up, or else just dropping by to tell him he sucks.
Others have provided screenshots of JoeDaddy’s next-day explanations for what happened, which include him supposedly insisting, “I did what I had to do” after his partner “hit me first and called me a bitch.”
Another supposed screenshot from his deleted Instagram has JoeDaddy apparently stating, “I did not rape her,” but adding, “I hit her and fell on top of her and hit her again I know I shouldn’t have done that. It’s a fucked up move I made. I’m sorry.”
The question here is if all that online outrage has resulted, or can result, in any real-life action. Social media has provided an enormous platform for the general public to see and be horrified by incidents like this one. And, as long as the YouTube videos stay up, JoeDaddy’s alleged domestic abuse can be replayed over and over, and new tweets calling him a shithead are coming in every couple minutes. Someone on Twitter posted a link to a document doxxing JoeDaddy (providing his supposed real-life name, address, and other personal information). As best we can tell from cross-checking public records, the address and phone number listed are wrong, and, in any case, doxxing effectively serves as a call for harassment and vigilante justice, the latter of which is often—to put it lightly—ineffectually applied. (The dox also provides links to the Facebook pages for JoeDaddy’s supposed mother and girlfriend, opening them up to online abuse or harassment.)
Despite all that legwork, it’s unclear if anyone called the police, or even knew where JoeDaddy was streaming from and would have been able to do so. And while Twitch has a fairly specific set of Rules of Conduct—illegal activity of any kind is prohibited on streams, as is targeted harassment, threats of violence, or even games depicting “gore” or extreme violence—it’s also not clear what the protocol is in cases like this.
We emailed Twitch’s general counsel and their PR team, asking if they were aware of the JoeDaddy stream and if the company had taken any action: For example, would they be able to identify him to law enforcement, if subpoenaed? Is there a way to report an emergency situation, like violence or swatting on a stream? (The user report form on the site might be the best bet, but it’s not exactly set up for emergencies requiring immediate action). They haven’t yet responded. We also emailed the person identified in the dox to ask if he was JoeDaddy and if he had any comment; we’ll update this post as we can.
Update, 5:40 p.m.:
A PR person from Twitch responds:
We don’t comment on terms of service violations, but in regards to making reports to law enforcement, read on...
Twitch also reserves the right to disclose User information that we believe, in good faith and after making reasonable enquiries, is appropriate or necessary to take precautions against liability to Twitch; protect Twitch from fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful uses; to investigate and defend ourselves against third-party claims or allegations to protect the security or integrity of the Twitch Service; or to protect the rights, property, or personal safety of Twitch, our Users, or others. We will notify you of these disclosures if we reasonably think we can do so legally and without harming the purpose of the disclosure.
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