Twitch is no stranger to backlash over hate speech content. On the platform, there are hundreds of thousands of streamers and millions of viewers. It’s difficult to moderate and manage everything said with so many users, so when the website takes action, it sets a rather large precedent.

That’s why the website’s decision to ban a streamer of color for using the word “cracker” was odd because of the way Twitch works, these bans usually don’t last forever. In a week, Twitch will welcome Hasan Piker, the streamer in question, back to the platform. Even so, it raised an odd question for him and everyone else: who gets to say what in the internet age?

People were quick to point out the suspension’s hypocrisy. On the platform, many people freely use the n-word without fear of repercussion. The rules that govern such speech are broad and ambiguous.

So, it’s either open or shut, right? Piker was punished for using a slur for the purpose of inciting hatred. Obviously, it isn’t that simple.

For one thing, there’s a reason I’m writing “n-word” instead of n——-, but I don’t think twice about writing the word cracker. The first is a derogatory term, while the second is a common household snack. Even among those who believe cracker is a slur, few associate it with the n-word.

When websites take all-or-nothing stands on what they consider hate speech, there is almost no room for nuance. Many people, particularly non-white people, are left wondering what a solution to this problem would be because Twitch is acting without considering such nuances.

The most egalitarian approach would be to outright prohibit all slurs. While this appears to be fair, it effectively censors Black people on the platform. The n-word is almost always brought up when discussing racial slurs, and it’s well known that it’s frequently used among Black friends. If both the n-word and cracker are banned, it will be assumed that both terms are hate speech regardless of context.

Should the platform make a greater effort to investigate incidents more thoroughly? Yes, in an ideal world Twitch has millions of active users at any given time, as previously stated. Practicality suggests that monitoring every interaction on the platform would be impossible.

Going out of their way to punish a person of color for the comparatively benign use of the said work cracker reads as a waste of time and resources for a website with its long history of ignored & overlooked hate speech.

Despite all of the work that needs to be done to combat hate speech online, the word cracker should not be a top priority.