TwitchAlerts’ Cease & Desist Order To YouTube Personality Athene Boils Over
Here’s everything you need to know about the on-going dispute between TwitchAlerts and Athene.
Two days ago, TwitchAlerts (Vulcun) issued a cease and desist order to Athene, the popular Twitch streamer and YouTube personality. Athene is also the face of Gaming4Good (G4G), a newly launched platform similar to TwitchAlerts.
For those not in the know, TwitchAlerts is a program that allows its users to provide notifications and customized pop-up alerts for donations, subscribers, followers and hosts on Twitch streams. The service, which is free, includes tracking for donations. The biggest difference between G4G and TwitchAlerts is the ability for stream viewers and donors to choose what percentage of their donation goes towards charity (Save the Children) and the streamer. Donors can also win games and other prizes for donating.
When G4G launched earlier this year, Athene’s stream was viewbotted. Viewbotting is highly frowned upon and goes against the terms of service on Twitch—it can result in a suspension. Soon after, other high-profile streamers who started using G4G were contacted by TwitchAlerts soliciting feedback. In what may be an unlikely coincidence, Twitter bots also bombarded these streamers about TwitchAlerts being free and defamed Athene as a viewbotter.
As a result, Athene considered stopping his stream in order to protect G4G’s reputation.
Vulcun had previously been been charged by the Federal Trade Commission for unfairly installing apps on Android mobile devices without users’ permission.
What Vulcun’s extension actually did, the FTC charged, was to install apps directly on the Android devices of consumers, while bypassing the permissions process in the Android operating system.
“After Vulcun acquired the Running Fred game, they used it to install a different app, commandeer people’s computers, and bombard them with ads,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We’re pleased we were able to prohibit these practices going forward.”
When TwitchAlerts allegedly copied a feature that G4G had–the ability to play YouTube videos on a stream during a donation–Athene responded by putting out a video urging his fans to donate to streams with a link to one of his videos advertising G4G. This caused TwitchAlerts to block specific URLs. When Athene’s fans circumvented the blocks by re-uploading the videos, TwitchAlerts responded by blocking all videos uploaded in the last 30 days. TwitchAlerts has also banned any donations that mention “gamingforgood,” “g4g,” and “Athene.” These words are censored and removed so neither the streamer nor any of their viewers will even see the text.
The issue escalated to the point where Athene decided to hold a one-on-one with the CEO of Vulcun, Ali A. Moiz today. In a Skype call between the two, Moiz explained the reasons for his company’s cease and desist letter. Moiz claims that Athene spread a factually incorrect details about TwitchAlerts in a recently published video.
Athene says that TwitchAlerts did not do enough to inform its subscribers that it was now taking a cut from stream donations through a new service that allowed donors to buy virtual gold in exchange for services from streamers. In both the video and the Skype call, Athene says that TwitchAlerts did not contact its users through e-mail announcing them of the important detail. After streamers complained, the company retracted the service. Moiz claims that the company had no plans to take any sort of cut, despite already having implemented a service that experimented with it. As Athene points out in his video, TwitchAlerts had previously vowed never to charge streamers for using its service.
Later in the call, Moiz stated in somewhat uncertain terms that anyone using TwitchAlerts to “spam” and “harass” (words he used) the service to promote G4G would be held liable for a lawsuit. When confronted, Moiz denied that the company would sue anyone, but stated once again that it was against the terms and services to donate to any stream with a promotion of G4G or any other product. It is only possible to deduce that even promoting a personal YouTube channel through a Twitch donation can be against TwitchAlerts’ terms of service.
“That will get them in trouble,” said Moiz, to which Athene responded: “You just told more than 10k people that they’re not allowed to donate for what they want.”
Moiz went on to say that Vulcun intends to hold Athene liable for anything he says in his videos, both the ones that have already been released, and anything he makes in the future. He also accused Athene of “spreading drama” to build awareness of G4G, to which Athene responded by asking how that was possible, seeing that it was Vulcun that sent him a cease and desist letter and a threat to sue. Moiz also inferred that any actions of Athene’s fans taken on his behalf would also be his responsibility to bear.
We have reached out to both Athene and TwitchAlerts to provide further clarification for the on-going issue.
Update: Athene has provided us with a statement:
For the time being, based on the advice that TwitchAlerts’ CEO gave me in the call, I will explicitly tell my following I might go to jail when they mention ‘GamingForGood’ or ‘Athene’ when donating to streamers using TwitchAlerts and I’ll do so until I have gotten further legal advice.