The Army eSports Team has halted their Twitch stream, for now

Jack Murphy
July 23, 2020 - 9:55 am
Army eSports team

Hu Chengwei / Stringer

Categories: 

Army and Navy eSports teams have come under fire in recent weeks for blocking users who ask them about war crimes.

eSports is a rapidly growing industry in which players competitively play video games which are live-streamed onto the internet, using platforms such as Twitch. Knowing that America's youth are playing video games and watching others do the same on Twitch, the Army and Navy have created their own eSports teams in order to spread awareness about military service and enable recruitment efforts.

However, some legal experts believe they have run afoul of the law, and the U.S. Constitution by blocking users who ask questions they don't like. For that reason, the Army eSports team has halted their live streams.

"The team has paused streaming to review internal policies and procedures, as well as all platform-specific policies, to ensure those participating in the space are clear before streaming resumes," an Army spokesperson told gaming news website Gamespot.

Meanwhile, the Navy eSports team has continued their streams unabated, and for now, are seemingly unconcerned.

Last year, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that President Trump could not block Twitter users that he disagreed with. One of the judges who made the ruling at the time wrote, "the First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees."

This precedent may very well apply to the Army and Navy's use of Twitch as well. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University challenged President Trump's Twitter bans and has now weighed in on the DoD eSports fiasco as well.

“Once the government opens up a space for expressive activity to the public at large, the First Amendment prohibits it from excluding speakers from that space on the basis of viewpoint. The Army and Navy can’t constitutionally delete comments or ban people from these Twitch channels simply for asking questions about issues they would rather not address," wrote Katie Fallow, Senior Staff Attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute, in a released statement.

It remains to be seen when the Army eSports team will begin live streaming again, if ever.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is currently trying to slip an amendment into a 2021 fiscal bill being debated by the House Appropriations Committee that, "prohibits the use of funds for recruiting via video gaming and e-sports platforms."

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.