Sam is a 20 year-old college student who says he felt deceived by military recruitment efforts at his own high school. Recently, he found a way to push back. He and dozens of others, spread across a couple of Discords, spend chunks of their day trolling the military on Twitch. They harbor no delusions. They do not believe that branches of the United States military are going to suddenly upend their esports operation and go home. But nearly every night of the week, they still spend hours poking and prodding at the twin bears that are America’s Army and Navy.
Today, after recently unbanning viewers who had asked about war crimes (among other things), the U.S. Army is back on Twitch. Now a whole, whole lot of people are asking about war crimes.
The U.S. Army’s Twitch channel has not streamed in almost a month. After finding itself in the crosshairs of Twitch users and Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for banning viewers who asked about war crimes and hosting sketchy giveaways, the channel went radio silent. Soon, however, it will return, and previously banned users will have their accounts reinstated, according to an Army spokesperson.
The U.S. Army has dealt with sustained backlash over the past few weeks against its recruitment-oriented Twitch channel, which has banned viewers for asking about war crimes and hosted supposed giveaways that just dumped people out onto a recruitment page (which the Army has since claimed did enter viewers into a competition through other means, but which Twitch nonetheless forced it to stop running). Now, in response to this, it looks like the Army is putting a halt to all Twitch activity—at least, for the time being.
The U.S. Army and Navy might have different express purposes and a football rivalry, but they’re united in their shared passion for avoiding talk of war crimes. Soon after the Army took flak for banning viewers who asked about war crimes from its Twitch channel, the Navy is employing a similar tactic.
The U.S. Army has a Twitch channel that it uses to fish for potential recruits. Last week, it came under fire for issuing bans to viewers who asked about war crimes. This week, a report by The Nation dug deeper, pointing out, among other things, that the channel had a habit of running fake controller giveaways that redirected viewers to a recruitment page. Following widespread scrutiny, Twitch says it’s forced the Army to stop.
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.