The US Army’s Twitch channel has been reprimanded by the platform after it used fake game controller giveaways to direct people to a recruitment form. The controversy comes soon after it was criticized for blocking viewers who asked about war crimes.
As reported by The Nation, the Army, Navy, and Air Force all have dedicated eSports teams that stream on Twitch. The members consist of active and reserve members of the military who talk about their love of gaming and the armed forces.
The publication writes that the channel’s streams were regularly populated with an automated chat prompt that offered the chance to win the $200+ Xbox Elite Series 2. But clicking on this link directed people to an army recruitment form with no mention of a competition, odds, number of winners, or draw dates.
The fake competition drew the ire of many viewers and other streamers, complaining that any other channel would face repercussions for similar actions. It seems Twitch heard the complaints and has now stopped the army from running these ‘giveaways.’
“Per our Terms of Service, promotions on Twitch must comply with all applicable laws,” a spokesperson for the site told Kotaku. “This promotion did not comply with our Terms, and we have required them to remove it.”
The army’s Twitch stream is also being accused of violating viewers’ First Amendment rights after banning users who asked about its favorite war crimes. While channels can ban who they want, anything classed as a government public forum can’t silence citizens. The free speech laws are the same reason why Donald Trump can’t block people on Twitter. The ACLU has also spoken out against the army. “Calling out the government’s war crimes isn’t harassment, it’s speaking truth to power,” the organization said on Twitter. “And banning users who ask important questions isn’t ‘flexing,’ it’s unconstitutional.”