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Twitch requires US Army to remove fake sweepstakes promotions

Twitch said the promotions didn't comply with their Terms of Service.

Twitch has made the U.S. Army remove the fake giveaway promotions from its channel on the platform, according to Kotaku. The U.S. Army’s Twitch channel came under fire earlier this week for engaging in deceptive marketing tactics.

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Jordan Uhl exposed the problematic promotions in a report for The Nation. The U.S. Army channel reportedly ran false promotions, promising the chance to win an Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller. But when viewers clicked on the giveaway prompt, they were instead directed to unrelated recruitment forms with no further mention of the sweepstakes.

The promotions appeared to violate U.S. sweepstakes laws on a number of counts, prompting outrage among many streamers and viewers.

Twitch streamer Jayson Love called out Twitch on Twitter, saying “the silence from Twitch on the latest wave of criticism regarding the military using the site to scam kids into sharing personal info speaks volumes. Imagine ANY other channel doing that. Feel free to manipulate your viewers as much as you like, I guess?”

In response to the backlash, Twitch has now removed those promotions. “Per our Terms of Service, promotions on Twitch must comply with all applicable laws,” Twitch said in a statement to Kotaku. “This promotion did not comply with our Terms, and we have required them to remove it.”

Concerns with the recruitment practices on the U.S. Army Twitch channel have been mounting over the past couple of weeks. Beyond the issues with the giveaway, the Twitch channel also came under fire earlier this month for banning viewers who asked about U.S. war crimes in the chat. 

It’s difficult to know the constitutionality of the U.S. Army channel’s moderation rules without a court ruling, but some attorneys have argued that banning users for their comments may constitute a violation of the First Amendment, which says the U.S. government can’t abridge a citizen’s right to free speech or expression. 

In response to the backlash, the U.S. Army has claimed that comments about war crimes constitute harassment of soldiers, which is why they removed the comments.

The American Civil Liberties Union, however, argued on Twitter that “calling out the government’s war crimes isn’t harassment, it’s speaking truth to power. And banning users who ask important questions isn’t “flexing” it’s unconstitutional.”

The U.S. military has invested a significant amount of money and manpower into its Twitch and esports recruitment efforts. In addition to running recruitment channels for various branches of the military, the U.S. military also fields a variety of its own esports teams and sponsors multiple esports events, including ESL Counter-Strike events and the Call of Duty League.

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