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16 Jul, 2020 22:04

Twitch cracks down on US Army’s ‘fake giveaway’ program aimed at teens after activist complains

Twitch cracks down on US Army’s ‘fake giveaway’ program aimed at teens after activist complains

The streaming platform Twitch has removed a ‘bait and switch’ ad by the US Army that sought to harvest teenagers’ data through a misleading video-game controller giveaway, after complaints from a progressive activist.

“This promotion did not comply with our Terms, and we have required them to remove it,” Twitch told the videogame news site Kotaku in an email on Thursday, after the Nation published a piece by the self-described progressive activist Jordan Uhl, who brought up the practice.

Video game streams hosted by the Army would put up a link for a contest to win a Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, but it led to a recruitment page with no information about the “contest, odds, total number of winners, or when a drawing will occur,” which would put it in violation of US laws, Uhl wrote.

The Amazon-owned streaming platform said it had almost five billion hours watched between April and June, almost catching up to Netflix during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Unlike Americans who sought relief from lockdown boredom, Uhl apparently did not hop onto Twitch to watch the military play video games with teenagers; the activist noted that the military was seeking to recruit among “children in unstable and/or disadvantaged situations.” 

The military used “sleight-of-hand tactics, false promises, and deceptive messaging to trick them into filling out recruiting forms” via Twitch and e-sports, he wrote, while their members stream “hawkish agitprop day after day.”

Also on rt.com Say uwu? US Army esports division causes cringe with online babytalk as people are baffled by its existence

The Army made waves last month when its e-sports team engaged in some cringeworthy babytalk banter with managers at Discord, a voice chat platform. Many people realized for the first time that the Army actually ran a professional video game team, though it’s been around since November 2018.

These “nationalistic e-sports efforts disregard the violence that the US military inflicts around the world,” Uhl wrote, noting that he eventually got himself banned from the Twitch channel for bringing up the US “history of atrocities around the globe.”

That prompted a writeup by the New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz and a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that the Army – as part of the US government – was not allowed under the First Amendment to censor anyone.

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