The U.S. Navy's esports team, Goats & Glory, like the U.S. Army's esports team, has started banning any commenters who ask about American war crimes on its Twitch streams.
Progressive activist Jordan Uhl, who previously trolled the US Army Esports team and exposed how it’s possibly violating the First Amendment, decided to see if the Navy had different policies.
“I’m trying to see how each branch handles this,” Uhl told Motherboard on the phone.
Uhl heard about the Navy esports team’s Twitch channel and joined it on Saturday. “The chat was already flooded with people asking about military misconduct,” he said. “I chimed in a couple of times, framing my comments carefully about how I’m using my freedom speech to ask about the predatory military recruitment process. I eventually got banned.”
A video Uhl posted to Twitter shows a U.S. Navy esports team member telling his moderator to add “Eddie Gallagher” to the list of banned phrases.
“People are using that to skirt around the whole war crime thing,” the streaming Sailor said. Gallagher is a Navy Seal who, among other things, took photos with people he killed, stabbed a sedated captive, and held a reenlistment ceremony over a wounded enemy. These are war crimes and Gallagher’s fellow Navy Seals turned him in. Trump pardoned him.
The Navy esports team would rather you not bring up Gallagher while it’s trying to play Escape from Tarkov and talk to the youth of America. “They had banned the word Eddie Gallagher, they had banned multiple different spellings—including alphanumeric variations—of ‘war crimes,’” Uhl said. “So they’re really trying to block dissent.”
"We moderate our channel in accordance with our posted channel rules, which are available to everyone who chooses to participate in the chat. We strive to allow for maximum freedom of discussion in our chat and seek to only ban those who break the posted rules or engage in personal attacks against our streamers or their families," a spokesperson for the Navy said. "We have a system whereby offenders are given several chances to correct infractions prior to being banned and our moderators will engage with those who violate the rules to inform them of which channel rules they have broken. This is done in an attempt to allow for the maximum amount of free, civil, and open discourse. If someone feels like they have been unfairly banned, they have every right to contact a moderator for an explanation and possible unbanning."
When asked about similar behavior by the U.S. Army esports team, Twitch did not provide a statement but referred Motherboard to its FAQ and said that, "Channel owners and moderators are free to ban anyone from their channel, regardless of the reason. Twitch Staff will not assist in reversing channel-specific bans."
The Army told Motherboard that a question about war crimes was “a violation of Twitch's harassment policy and banned the user. We fully support users' rights to express themselves, but we will not support harassment of our Soldiers on our forums.”