The US Army is back on Twitch, and it is not going well for them

(Image credit: US Army)

The US Army is once again livestreaming on Twitch, and it is not going great for the Army. The Twitch chat is once again being flooded with comments about war crimes, and this time it seems that no effort is being made to stop them.

The Army's troubles began when its esports team's livestream came to widespread notice in July, which led to a flood of users in Twitch chat repeatedly asking the streamers about war crimes. Bans were issued, predictably, but the matter took a big turn when Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute said that, because the Army is an agency of the US government, deleting comments and banning users is a violation of the Constitution.

That was apparently an accurate assessment, because a couple of weeks ago the Army said it was "reviewing and clarifying its policies and procedures for the stream," and that after an extended absence it would resume streaming "in the near future." It also said that banned users would be allowed back as long as they follow the team's rules—which are actually Twitch's rules—against "personal attacks, crude language, pornographic material, harassment and bullying."

Those guidelines say nothing about what actually started all the trouble in the first place, and on that front it seems to be full steam ahead: The chat at the moment is in slow mode, which helps cut back on spam, but otherwise it appears almost entirely unmoderated. 

There are occasional expressions of support, but the great bulk of commentary is critical of the US military: Statements and questions about committing war crimes, killing US citizens, the prevalence of sexual assault in the military, predatory recruiting, US-led destabilization efforts throughout the world, and worse. Anti-military spam is also prevalent, and of course there are plenty of personal attacks—which, despite the Army's prohibition, have so far been allowed to stand.

The stream has been live for close to two hours at this point, and just now started streaming World of Warcraft—prior to that it was just the soldier reading the chat stream, answering occasional questions, and looking miserable throughout. I'm really not sure what the point of the exercise is aside from possibly an attempt to wait out the critics, but right now there's no indication that they're going to give up anytime soon.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.