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US Army finally ‘pauses’ its Twitch gamer outreach program after bans, scam & free speech complaints

US Army finally ‘pauses’ its Twitch gamer outreach program after bans, scam & free speech complaints
The US Army has finally logged off Twitch after its questionable efforts to connect with gamers were met with major pressure from online activists and suggestions that its dubious activity even fell foul of the Constitution.

The military’s esports gaming team has “paused” its Twitch streaming and social media interactions following negative media coverage and “potentially unconstitutional bans,” journalist Rod Breslau first reported on Thursday.

The Army and the US Navy have long been trying to connect with young people by maintaining a social media presence and in recent years began streaming video games or ‘esports’ on the Twitch platform. Yet, the military’s gaming division only fully entered public consciousness in recent weeks — and not for good reason.

The move to abandon the platform comes after the Army’s gaming corps came under fire from Twitch itself earlier this month for allegedly setting up a fake giveaway, which would lead young participants to a military recruitment page — instead of a contest to win an expensive game controller.

Weeks earlier, the Army’s esports Twitter account drew more unwanted attention to itself after using the baby talk word “uwu” in a cringe-inducing exchange with the Discord chat platform.

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

The incident led to an influx of new viewers in the Army’s Twitch streams — but not, perhaps, the audience it was hoping for, as dozens of commenters flooded the chat with questions about US war crimes. The channel’s only reaction was to ban comments en masse live on air.

Things escalated quickly when the bans led some legal experts to point out that the silencing might have been a violation of freedom of speech and the first amendment of the US Constitution.

“The government can’t try to engineer the conversation of the public by saying ‘only people who agree with us can respond,’” said Katie Fallow, a lawyer at the Knight First Amendment Institute, as the scandal gathered steam on Monday.

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

Things went from bad to worse on Wednesday when New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez filed a draft amendment to a spending bill that would forbid the use of military funding to “maintain a presence” on Twitch “or any video game, esports, or livestreaming platform.”

A US Army spokesperson later confirmed that their channel “paused streaming to review internal policies and procedures.”

When the Army’s esports team was created in 2018, Recruiting Command spokeswoman Kelli Bland said that the group would act in “a support role” to “help young people see soldiers in a different light” and to help the Army “address the growing disconnect with society.” 

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