U.S. Army’s Twitch Chat Banning People For Asking About War Crimes

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Some folks have recently taken to trolling the U.S. Army’s official Twitch channel by asking in chat about the military’s well documented history of committing war crimes. The channel’s moderators have responded by banning them.

The U.S Army has a Twitch channel where the members of its esports team occasionally stream games, and earlier this week some newcomers used the chat to grill the Army about past abuses. “What’s your favourite u.s. w4r cr1me?” esports insider Rod “Slasher” Breslau typed into the chat under the alias really_chill_guy, according to a video he shared online on July 8. He then shared a link to the Wikipedia page listing U.S. war crimes. Moments after making the comment he was banned from the chat. “Nice, really chill guy, have a nice time getting banned my dude,” said the channel’s streamer at the time, Joshua “Strotnium” David, a Green Beret and 12-year veteran of the Army.

Vice reports that after Breslau’s video started making the rounds, others decided to hop into the chat as well. “Hello fellow kids,” wrote one person, according to a screencap shared by SB Nation producer Kofie Yeboah. “Oh so you like video games? Well you’re gonna LOVE dying in a foreign country to protect the interests of oligarchs back home.”

The chat was soon flooded with similar comments, which were deleted by the channel’s moderators. The stream subsequently went offline. When it returned shortly afterwards, only Twitch users who had been following the channel for more than 24 hours were able to post. “Ya’ll are gonna talk all that crap to my angels on the esports team, the nicest person in the entire world, you little internet keyboard monsters,” David said in the stream according to Vice. “No, I won’t stand for that. I’m bigger than you.” A VOD for the stream has not been uploaded.

The U.S. Army Esports Team did not immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for comment. It did provide Vice with the following statement regarding one user who apparently tried to discuss White Phosphorus, a chemical weapon the U.S. military has reportedly used in the past and which is mentioned in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare:

“This user’s question was an attempt to shift the conversation to imply that Soldiers commit war crimes based on an optional weapon in a game, and we felt that violated Twitch’s harassment policy. The U.S. Army offers youth more than 150 different careers, and ultimately the goal of the Army eSports Team is to accurately portray that range of opportunities to interested youth.”

The Army’s official esports team was originally launched back in 2018 as part of a new propaganda strategy to reach younger gamers. The team’s Twitch channel went up this past May and features mostly shooters like Valorant and Call of Duty: Warzone. Recruiters are sometimes present in the chat to answer people’s questions about joining the military.

Efforts to troll the organisation didn’t just begin this week. They date back to June 30, when the Army Esports Team sent the Discord Twitter account a tweet saying “UwU,” the text emoticon meant to convey a sort of purring happiness. This display of cuteness from an organisation affiliated with the world’s most powerful imperial ground force inspired some to join the Army Esports Discord to see how fast they could get banned. As Polygon reported at the time, this impromptu speedrunning competition eventually led to the Discord being temporarily disabled. Nearly two weeks later, the Discord landing page is still disabled.

“I think every post that I do from now on is going to say UwU in it just to flex,” David said during his July 8 stream, according to Vice. The Army Esports channel’s most recent stream took place yesterday afternoon, and by the end of it the chat was already full of people discussing the latest bans. The next stream to go live will be the first to take place a full 24 hours after the following time requirement was first implemented. 

Comments

  • Actual legitimate question here:

    Is a twitch channel owned by the US army, a department of the US gov, actually allowed to ban anyone in their chat, or does that actually constitute a violation of their first amendment rights?

    • Breaches Twitch’s guidelines but it’s really infantile targeting an e-sports team. If you have a problem with the military, then petition the pentagon or the military hierarchy. All this is doing is grandstanding from people who have no idea what its like to serve in the army or a conflict zone.

      • I think you’ll find a lot of the people aren’t motivated by personal problems with the military they just find it funny to mess with them. It’s easy trolling because you’re going to get speed banned and you’re probably going to set off a round of a barrage of stupid comments in the chat.

        That said mocking their sports teams also is a far more effective form of protest than petitioning for change from a system that’s designed to ignore outside influence. The very nature of war crimes confirms that the mechanisms in place to ensure proper standards of behaviour don’t work.

        • There’s also the extremely not cool act of using video games to recruit young people. I have friends in the military who take part in their recreational competitions, mostly body builders, and I as someone who worked with one of Australia’s biggest champions of diplomatic sports I truly appreciate the importance of such teams, but I’d have to be stupid to ignore the fact that recruitment is a driving force there and teams like this aim young.

      • You say that “it’s really infantile targeting an e-sports team”, but actually, the e-sports team is an active mechanism that the military has created and paid handsomely for explicitly as a recruitment and promotion tool. We’re not talking a few university kids playing counter strike here.

        Don’t be all coy as if the US military aren’t playing exactly the same game as the protestors. One is presenting a positive spin on the military and the protestors are putting a negative spin, but both are actively engaging in 100% spin.

        The US military doesn’t pay for and run their e-sports programming as an altruistic attempt to convince children to play video more games.

        • The whole thing is essentially the “Hello fellow kids” meme

          “Look we play them Vidya games as well! Please join the US Miltary Complex!”

    • From what I remember, in the court case against trump for blocking people on Twitter, it was ruled unconstitutional because he was essentially using his Twitter to broadcast official government policy, so he therefore could not block people.

      I don’t know if the same would apply here. Would be great if we had a constitutional lawyer on hand

    • The US Army lets its soldiers get away with war crimes, you think they give a shit about twitch bans? Not to mention their record on straight-up trampling the first amendment whenever they like. The US military does whatever the fuck it wants.

  • While the armed forces of course do more than the one thing, if you join the army today (the Australian one too as they just do what America asks) you’re either aware and OK with the fact you are basically signing up to kill people to secure oil for America or the notion that you’re supporting a system designed to kill people doesn’t bother you enough to bother researching what you’re actually killing people for.

    I’ll come across as awfully harsh here, and I’ve gotten dirty looks for expressing this with among friends, but if either is the case you’re a monster. Killing or dying, or both, for the sake of making the rich richer is awful enough before you even get to the war crimes.

    Any form of harassment sent their way is more than deserved, screw them and everything they stand for.

    • I can’t upvote with the new layout but this is the blunt truth. If America declares war on literally anything tomorrow both our political parties default to ‘how many soldiers do you want’. One party might wag their finger at it if it’s blatantly criminal, outside of view of the US of course, but ultimately anyone who signs up for the armed forces is signing up for the US military, and the US military’s track record speaks for itself.

  • The real reason we have wars is because fools keep sighing up either because it provides a legal outlet for their violence or because they lack the critical thinking skills to distinguish propaganda from reality. Whatever the reason, if we had no soldiers we could have no wars.
    Funny, I watched Armageddon Factor the other day and Jim Kirk told them to basically stop having arms length killing and get to the hard business of talking through their problems, ironic from Kirk. Sixties idealism we have all forgotten.

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