US Army finally ‘pauses’ its Twitch gamer outreach program after bans, scam & free speech complaints
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.
new: sources tell me due to recent media coverage of fake giveaways and potentially unconstitutional bans, the US Army esports team has paused social activity, streaming on Twitch, and official activations with Twitch including participating in upcoming Twitch Rivals events— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) July 22, 2020
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.
us navy esports team twitch chat ban speedrun pic.twitter.com/LmYtWL2A0q— jordan (@JordanUhl) July 18, 2020
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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