Attendees walk past a Twitch logo painted on stairs during opening day of E3, the annual video games expo revealing the latest in gaming software and hardware in Los Angeles
Attendees walk past a Twitch logo painted on stairs during opening day of E3, the annual video games expo revealing the latest in gaming software and hardware in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 11, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Twitch is suing its own users who trolled the streaming platform's Artifact category and filled it with videos of the recent Christchurch mass shooting, copyrighted content, sexually explicit videos, and gore. The lawsuit aims to find the identity of malicious users, filed in a U.S. District Court in Northern California on June 14.

The circus came to Twitch last month when somebody noticed that the category dedicated to Valve's Artifact card game was a ghost town-or, maybe more accurately, a void waiting to be filled. And fill it they did, with memes, sexually explicit content, and more. Twitch fought back, killing streams and suspending troll accounts as quickly as it could, but the internet is persistent, and it took a while to rein things in.

Last week, Twitch launched the next phase of its defensive operations, which is really more of a counter-attack: It filed a lawsuit against the people who took part in the trolling for trademark infringement, fraud, breach of contract, and unauthorized use of its services. However, the company has admitted to not knowing the identity of the attackers.

The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg, is against a group described as "John and Jane Does 1-100." You can view Twitch's complaint here.

It describes a troll campaign of abuse in which dozens of people used bots to flood Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, with videos including "a video of the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attack, hardcore pornography, copyrighted movies and television shows, and racist and misogynistic videos."

"Over the weekend of May 25, we became aware of a number of accounts engaging in a coordinated attack targeting the 'Artifact' game directory to share content that grossly violates our terms of service," a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement. "We worked with urgency to remove the offending content and suspend all accounts engaged in this behavior, and are taking measures to prevent this from happening on our service in the future."

This comes a few weeks after Twitch implemented mandatory two-factor authentication for new users to stream on its platform. That was the company's latest and definitive action against spammy streams after it prevented new streamers from going live for a few days in an initial attempt to discourage trolls.

The spokesperson continued, "We take these violations extremely seriously-we are pursuing litigation to identify these bad actors and will take all appropriate actions to protect our community."