An anonymous hacker posted a massive cache of information this week about Twitch, revealing more than a few stunning pieces of information about Amazon’s streaming platform that we may never have learned about otherwise.
First reported by Video Games Chronicle, Twitch confirmed the October 6 breach in a blog post, which notes that “some data was exposed to the internet due to an error in a Twitch server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party.” (The cache of data was posted on the infamous 4chan messageboard.)
Company representatives declined Inverse’s request for further comment on the situation.
Data breaches are becoming a more common threat to companies at large, with over 1,291 breaches in 2021 being reported to the Identity Theft Resource Center. The Twitch hack is an unnerving reminder that even the world’s largest and most influential companies aren’t as secure as we might think.
Here are 10 of the biggest revelations from the Twitch data breach.
10. The leak came from 4chan
An anonymous poster on the 4chan messaging forum shared a 125GB torrent, which they claim includes the entirety of Twitch and the platform’s source code. The poster said the intent behind the leak was to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.”
“Jeff Bezos paid $970 million for this, we’re giving it away FOR FREE,” the hacker wrote, referencing Amazon’s 2014 purchase of the company.
Founded in 2003, 4chan has long had a strong connection to the gaming subculture and past internet attacks. The all-anonymous message board has also become a notorious hotbed for conspiracy theories, leaks of all kinds, and even threats of violence.
9. Twitch was working on a Steam competitor
The 4chan leak contained information about an unreleased gaming client similar to Valve’s Steam, labeled “Vapor.” According to one user on Twitter diving through its contents, the platform was designed to integrate with Twitch’s features and contained mentions of a game labeled “VapeWorld.” Assets for the title were also included in the leak, with renders of Twitch emotes and maps available.
8. You should probably change your Twitch password
Though the information in the leak focuses mainly on streamer payouts and the site’s source code, it’s still recommended to change your password.
User data may not have been included in the public post, but it could have been accessed and stored. Twitch reset all of its stream keys, a code that lets your streaming software connect to its platform according to the blog post. Still, it’s best to reset your password, just in case.
7. This is a breach on a massive scale
This breach is not to be taken lightly, and it’s unclear how Twitch will respond now that some of its best-kept secrets have become publicly available. Archie Agarwal, founder and CEO at the threat-modeling provider ThreatModeler, said the source code leak is “as bad as it could possibly be.”
6. Streamer payouts were made public
Twitch and its content creators have remained fairly secretive about how much they earn on the platform. This leak has essentially made that information publicly available, with the gross payouts of the top 10,000 streamers from August 2019 to October 2021 there for anyone to see.
This number only includes money made from subscribers, ads, and other Twitch deals, not donations or sponsorships. That means the actual amount that streamers earn could be much higher, though it does depend on the content creator.
5. The highest-paid streaming channel is a D&D show
According to information in the leak, voice actor Matt Mercer’s Dungeons and Dragons streaming show Critical Role earned more than $9.6 million dollars between August 2019 and October 2021.
Felix “XQC” Lengyel, the former Overwatch pro player with 9.3 million followers, earned $8.4 million in the same period.
4. Very few streamers are making big money
Over that two-year period, 81 streamers have allegedly earned over one million dollars streaming on Twitch. Going further down the list, the streamer at rank 10,000 earned $26,000 over that period.
While that may seem like a lot, Twitch has more than seven million streamers and averages around 2.5 million concurrent users, making the top creators who can make a living a significantly small percentage. Unless you are in the top .01 percent of creators, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to make streaming a full-time job.
3. Most high-earning streamers are male
If you take another look at this list, you’ll notice that a majority of the content creators are male. There are no female streamers in the top third of the top earners on the list and they make up only 16 percent of the top 1,000.
Imane Anys, known online as Pokimane, reached the 39th spot with $1.5 million earned in two years. Kaitlyn Siragusa, known online as Amouranth, was ranked at 48 with $1.3 million.
2. Streamers reacted with shock
Streamers who had their earnings leaked were quick to flock to social media. Hasan Piker, who the list claimed made $2.8 million over that two-year period, was trending on Twitter on Wednesday, responding with a simple “bro cmon.”
Anys tweeted “at least people can’t over-exaggerate me ‘making millions a month off my viewers’ anymore.” They’re not denying the numbers, but few people would appreciate having sensitive financial information splashed all over the internet.
1. Twitch could lose top talent
Twitch has dominated the streaming world by keeping its top performers satisfied with a steady stream of new viewers and revenue. This leak could alienate the platform’s biggest stars, and persuade them to pursue relationships with rival platforms that can offer more robust security.
A highly publicized 2019 study revealed that being a YouTuber or streamer was the most-desired job among kids between the ages of eight and 12, outranking musician, astronaut, and professional athlete. This hack lays bare the stark reality that most streamers don’t make nearly enough money to live on. For the vast majority, the streamer career path isn’t so glamorous.