- Related Games:
Following the drama surrounding the banning of pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung for saying “Liberate Hong Kong” during a tournament stream, Blizzard looks to be playing it safe when it comes to the issue. As part of this effort, the official Hearthstone Twitch channel now seems to be censoring certain keywords in its chat.
Fans on Reddit first noticed that the phrase “Free Hong Kong” had been censored in the official PlayHearthstone channel on Twitch. At first, people thought that the channel was censoring anything in support of Hong Kong. However, others soon pointed out that a number of phrases that were in support of China are also being filtered out.
The increased moderation seems to have come after weeks where the channel wasn’t moderated. However, Blizzard adding the filters shouldn’t be surprising. In its response to the backlash against Blitzchung’s ban, the studio stated that it wanted to “keep the official channels focused on the game” and not politics.
Additionally, filtering out keywords that side with both Hong Kong and China does send a message of impartiality on the studio’s part. This is important, as many fans feel that Blizzard banned Blitzchung because his pro-Hong Kong statement would have affected their ability to do business in China.
In addition to this, it was also pointed out that some chatters were abusing the chat prior lack of moderation. These folks had apparently been spamming the channel’s chat with both pro-Hong Kong and pro-China statements. As such, the filters could have been added to keep the chat clear for anyone actually wanting to talk about the game.
With that said, the moderation of the chat seems to be inconsistent. One redditor claimed to have been banned from the chat just for stating “I’m Winnie the Pooh.” Chinese premiere Xi Jinping has been often compared to the A. A. Milne character, resulting in the latter being quite controversial in China. However, another redditor stated that they didn’t get the same treatment for referencing the character. Regardless, anyone chatting in the official PlayHearthstone channel should probably restrict themselves to talking about the game itself in the chat for now.