US Army and Navy Twitch Chat Bans May Violate the First Amendment

US Army and Navy Twitch Chat Bans May Violate the First Amendment

Talking about war crimes is back on the menu!

pocru by pocru on Jul 21, 2020 @ 01:29 AM (Staff Bios)
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Not too long ago, we reported on the fact that the US Army’s Twitch channel was using misleading links to lure people to a recruitment forum, which is pretty insane even for this unabashedly propaganda-prone stream. Coincidentally, people have started spamming the Twitch chat of the US Army’s stream with questions about war crimes, which has resulted in people getting muted and banned from the chat.

Well, things have taken an interesting turn in the past few days.

The first reason is because the US Navy, who also has a Twitch channel for approximately the same reason as the Army, has started adopting a similar stance, banning and muting people who have decided to troll their stream with questions about the United State’s growing list of war crimes. This includes banning the name “Eddie Gallagher”, a former Navy SEAL who was accused of war crimes for murdering prisoners of war and civilians, and who would go on to be pardoned by President Trump. However, here’s the interesting bit: they soon reversed that ban.

Why? Because it’s been proposed that the Navy and Army’s banning of discussions of war crimes is actually in violation of the first amendment.

See, while private citizens can ban whatever chat content they don’t like, the Navy and Army are government-owned bodies, which means they’re forbidden from suppressing speech on public forums that it finds disagreeable. According to Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney at Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute:

"The government can’t try to engineer the conversation of the public by saying only people who agree with us can respond. The First Amendment means the government can’t kick someone out or preclude them based on their viewpoint."


This isn’t unprecedented. Back in 2018, President Trump was told by a judge that he couldn’t block anyone on Twitter for saying stuff he didn’t like. This could very well be the grounds used to force the US Army and Navy to stop banning this kind of chatter.

They 100 percent won’t engage with it, because they’re cowards, but at least they won’t ban it.

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