Can You Tell If Someone Is Viewbotting In Twitch?
Last Updated: September 13, 2020
Part of the appeal of Twitch is the community. A streamer worth their name knows that it takes more than epic skills in Fortnite to make them popular on Twitch. They must also create a community and make their channel a place people want to hang out and spend time. Not every streamer plays by the rules, so can you tell if someone is viewbotting in Twitch?
For streamers who want income from Twitch, it really is a numbers game. Sponsors and advertisers pay per view so the more people watch a stream, the more the advertiser will pay. As is always the case, when there is a system there are ways to game that system. That’s especially true when there is money involved!
What is viewbotting?
Viewbotting is exactly what the name implies. It’s a process of using bots to register as viewers on a stream. As advertisers pay per view, these bots can game the system to generate income for the streamer either while they are gaining popularity or just ripping off advertisers.
Twitch is not the only platform to suffer this. Many platforms that have a pay per view system in place suffer the same. As advertisers look for new and more engaging ways to hook an audience, they try increasingly desperate ways to get their products in front of young eyes.
With most young people ignoring traditional TV, fast forwarding through commercial breaks, gradually dropping Facebook and using ad-blockers, there is a real drive for other ways to advertise. Twitch is just one of them.
The system largely works. Advertisers pay Twitch and streamers to provide content for free. We get to watch that content without paying as long as we don’t mind seeing a commercial here and there or some not-so subtle product placement or endorsement.
Viewbotting uses bots that register on Twitch as human viewers. Both Twitch and the advertisers are fooled into thinking real eyes are watching a stream and the streamer is rewarded accordingly. Technically it is fraud but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone from doing it. Not when there is free money involved.
Can you tell if someone is viewbotting on a stream?
It is very difficult to tell if someone is viewbotting. The bots are very sophisticated and appear like normal viewers to both Twitch and to users. There are some signs though.
High viewer count low chat count
If you see 250 people on a stream but hardly anyone says anything, that is a sign the streamer may be using bots. It isn’t definitive as people may just be concentrating on what the streamer is doing but it is a sign something isn’t right. Even when a streamer covers complicated subjects, there is still a steady ebb and flow of chat in the box.
If you don’t see any of that, they may be using bots.
Bots are becoming more sophisticated all the time but they are still bots. They will use scripts to generate conversation and as good as they might be, they won’t look like real channel chat. Many of these viewbot operators are based in Eastern Europe or Asia so their grasp of English is going to be limited. Some bots will use chat from a list rather than a script which will rarely make sense.
These are both sure signs that something is up but not definitive. Sometimes a channel will attract more lurkers than usual. Some channels will attract more non-English speakers than you might be used to. Both could look like someone is using viewbots but won’t actually be bots.
The way to find out is to ask a question in chat. If nobody answers, they not be able to because they aren’t real people. Again, this isn’t definitive either as non-English speakers may not understand the question.
Twitch is fighting back against viewbotting
Twitch isn’t sitting still while viewbotting is going on. This fraud threatens its business model. If advertisers think they are getting ripped off, they will go elsewhere. Twitch actively detects and tries to stop the practice. It uses lawsuits, sophisticated detection techniques and likely other measures we don’t know of to reduce the prevalence of viewbotting.
Like many aspects of life on the internet, it’s a game of cat and mouse that will continue for a while yet. In the meantime, being selective about the channels you watch and sticking with legitimate ones while ignoring fakes is all you can do.