- Twitch has ordered the U.S. Army to stop offering fake giveaways on its platform.
- The issue first came to light after a reporter noticed that a prize giveaway link, which was posted into the chat box of an Army esports stream, redirected users to a recruitment page.
- According to that reporter, the recruitment page offered “no additional mention of a contest, odds, total number of winners, or when a drawing will occur.”
- Separately, the U.S. Army has also faced substantial blowback for banning Twitch users asking about war crimes, a move that potentially violates free speech laws.
US Army Offers Fake Giveaways
After the United States Army was allegedly caught promising fake prize giveaways on Twitch to promote its recruitment page, Twitch has ordered it to abandon the strategy.
The practice was first detailed by reporter Jordan Uhl in The Nation on Wednesday and stems from the Army’s esports team, which regularly streams on Twitch as a way to talk to teens about life in the military and recruitment options. Both the Navy and the Air Force also have esports teams that stream on Twitch.
In the chat box of those streams, the Army would reportedly post automated links promoting prize giveaways. For example, one prize included an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller; however, once people clicked the link to try to win that controller, they weren’t taken to a page to enter that drawing.
Instead, according to The Nation, they were directed to “a recruiting form with no additional mention of a contest, odds, total number of winners, or when a drawing will occur.”
The Army esports team routinely points viewers as young as 13 to this page with “Register To Win!” at the top in all caps. In some cases, they claim you can win a $200 controller.— jordan (@JordanUhl) July 15, 2020
The form is actually a recruiting form.https://t.co/Vk1mC7bn5U pic.twitter.com/N8oQkikeQJ
The news prompted outrage among some streamers and game developers who then urged Twitch to take action against the U.S. Army esports channel.
“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,” streamer Jayson “MANvsGame” Love said on Twitter. “Imagine ANY other channel doing that. Feel free to manipulate your viewers as much as you like, I guess?”
On Thursday, gaming website Kotaku reported that Twitch had forced the Army to stop tricking viewers, with Twitch saying in a statement to the outlet, “Per our Terms of Service, promotions on Twitch must comply with all applicable laws. This promotion did not comply with our Terms, and we have required them to remove it.”
Meanwhile, the Army has remained silent on why it allegedly engaged in fake giveaway tactics.
Is the US Army Also Violating Free Speech Laws on Twitch?
The fake giveaway is not the only Twitch-related controversy the Army has recently faced. Last week, after catching wind of users being banned for asking uncomfortable questions, Uhl reported that the Army’s Twitch channel banned him after he asked about war crimes during a stream—a move that could be seen as a blockage of free speech.
In a recorded video, Uhl asks other viewers what their favorite U.S. war crime is in the chat box of that stream. He then links to the Wikipedia page for U.S. war crimes. Seconds after that, he is banned.
“Have a nice time getting banned, my dude,” Army recruiter and gamer Joshua “Strotnium” David tells Uhl just before the video ends.
The U.S. Army (and its esports team) are not private entities. While general Twitch streamers can moderate their channels however they wish, public forums hosted by the government are generally required to abide by strict free speech laws.
In response, the Army later confirmed that it banned Uhl directly because of his comments, arguing that those comments violated Twitch’s harassment policies.
“Team members are very clear when talking with potential applicants that a game does not reflect a real Army experience,” a representative of the U.S. Army esports team told Vice. “They discuss their career experiences in real terms with factual events.”
“Team members ensure people understand what the Army offers through a realistic lens and not through the lens of a game meant for entertainment. This user’s question was an attempt to shift the conversation to imply that Soldiers commit war crimes based on an optional weapon in a game, and we felt that violated Twitch’s harassment policy.”
“The U.S. Army offers youth more than 150 different careers, and ultimately the goal of the Army eSports Team is to accurately portray that range of opportunities to interested youth.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, however, has argued 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.”
Concerns Over Army Streaming With Teens
“Was I undiplomatic?,” Uhl asked in his Wednesday article. “Sure. But if the military is going to use one of the world’s most popular platforms to recruit kids, then it shouldn’t be able to do so without some pushback. Right now, with the support of Twitch, gamers with the US military are spending hours with children as young as 13, trying to convince them to enlist.”
As Uhl noted, the military’s newfound use of Twitch could be an even more effective method than “approaching a recruiter behind a table in a school cafeteria.” For example, “kids can hang out with one who is playing their favorite video games and replying to their chat messages for hours on end.”
Of the four main branches of the military, only the Marine Corps has refused to launch an esports team.
“This is due in part to the belief that the brand and issues associated with combat are too serious to be ‘gamified’ in a responsible manner,” the Marine Corps Recruiting Command said in January.
See what others are saying: (The Nation) (Kotaku) (The Verge)
Mr Beast Defends Charli and Dixie D’Amelio Following Tournament Win Backlash
- Mr Beast held a trivia tournament Saturday where creators competed against each other for $300,000 to give to their fans.
- Charli and Dixie D’Amelio won the competition, however, many accused them of having an unfair advantage because they were allowed to compete as a team and had their parent’s beside them as well.
- Some online even suggested that the family may have been cheating through the use of phones or people off-camera.
- Mr Beast said fans should be mad at him, not the family, since it was his decision to allow multiple people on a team. Still, he noted that the tournament was just for fun and promised to make teams equal in future competitions.
Mr Beast Hosts Creator Tournament
Internet users lashed out at TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio on Saturday, accusing them of cheating in YouTuber Mr Beast’s trivia competition.
Mr Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, held his latest influencer tournament that same day, following the success of his Rock Paper Scissors charity steam earlier this year. During the trivia event, 24 creators competed against one another for $300,000 to give to their fans.
Contestants included the likes of Addison Rae, Bretman Rock, KSI, Safiya Nygaard, Jaiden Animations, and tons of others, with the D’Amelio sisters ultimately being declared the winners.
However, many were unhappy with that, saying they cheated and had an unfair advantage. This is because the sisters were allowed to compete as a team and also brought their parents along with them.
It is worth noting that only Dixie competed in the final round of trivia against comic book artist and YouTuber ZHC. Still, many felt like the 4 on 1 match-ups weren’t fair and even suggested that the family was cheating through the use of phones or people off-screen.
Not just that my guy, they were using phones pic.twitter.com/cJmYlLQps4— mbdtf (@saintmankind) October 18, 2020
Mr Beast Defends D’Amelio Family
Mr Beast eventually had to try and diffuse the situation after seeing the family faced a slew of backlash online.
“I see some people mad that I let multiple people compete on a single team in the trivia tournament!” he wrote. “Honestly, the tournament was just for fun and to bring the community together and I’d appreciate if you were to get mad at anyone, get mad at me. It was my decision lol”
“The criticism is noted and I’ll definitely keep all the teams the same size next time! 100% my b Red heart,” he continued.
Fellow YouTubers expressed a similar sentiment about the competition being all for fun, with the money ultimately going to fans in need.
Tana Mongeau’s “Booty for Biden” Promotion Sparks Legal Concerns
- YouTube star Tana Mongeau has come under fire for offering nude photos to fans who proved they voted for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
- Some said it could be considered vote buying, which is a felony. Others said it encourages fans to take ballot selfies as proof, which are illegal in several states.
- Mongeau eventually added, “by proof I just meant tell me,” before ultimately deleting the post and writing, “in all seriousness if you can vote please do.”
- She did, however, claim that she received “tens of thousands of messages” from people telling her they voted for Biden.
Tana Launches #BootyForBiden Campaign
YouTuber Tana Mongeau promised to send nudes to Joe Biden supporters on Wednesday as part of her “Booty for Biden” campaign, which has now raised legal concerns.
Mongeau advertised the strategy in a Tweet, writing: “if you send me proof u voted for Biden I’ll send you a nude for free.”
That post, of course, was accompanied by a link to her OnlyFans page and the hashtag #bootyforbiden. However, the problem is that people said she was breaking the law and asking her fans to do the same.
Some say what she did could be considered vote buying, which is a felony punishable by a fine and up to two years behind bars. Because she was asking fans for proof of their vote, others said she was also encouraging ballot selfies, which are illegal in several states.
Tana Deletes Post
Mongeau eventually clarified what she meant by proof, saying, “I just meant tell me.”
She then ended up deleting her initial offer altogether, following up with, “in all seriousness if you can vote please do… not voting is voting and the world is scary.”
It’s unclear what the response to her post was like on her end, but she did later claim that her campaign “broke Tana Uncensored,” in an Instagram post that featured a NSFW photo of her with the Democratic candidates face photoshopped over hers.
“Tana Uncensored messages are broken, and the point has been made: I got tens of thousands of messages of people telling me that they willingly voted for Joe Biden,” Mongeau added in an Instagram Story.
“It’s the best thing ever. You don’t need my ass to make you go vote. So go vote because you wanna see a change in this country just like me, and thank you to everyone who joined me today. Booty for Biden.”
For now, it seems like the YouTuber is trying to join the list of stars encouraging their fans to vote, but the way she’s been doing it might be a problem.
Tana Loses YouTube Verification
Reports surfaced this weekend pointing out that Mongeau has just lost her YouTube verification check. As of now, there’s no confirmed reason, evidence, or explanation for this, but some internet users and media outlets are suggesting it could have to do with the controversy.
Neither Mongeau nor the platform has commented on the verification change so it’s tough to say if they are connected.
Meanwhile, fans online are offering up other explanations, saying it could be because she changed her name back from Tana Paul to Tana Mongeau.
It’s because she changed her name to Tana Paul and back to Tana Mongeau. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been verified since she changed it.— POCHAMA MIA (@NickPochama) October 4, 2020
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Cosmopolitan) (Daily Dot)
How Snapchat, Kylie Jenner, and David Dobrik Are Helping Boost U.S. Voter Registrations
- Snapchat has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through an in-app feature.
- According to the company, about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters, and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24.
- On top of that, Snapchat also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
- Massive stars like Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik also caught attention this week for encouraging voter registration.
- Jenner did so with bikini photos that directed fans to vote.org, meanwhile, Dobrik did so by launching a Tesla giveaway that requires participants to check their voter registration status.
Snapchat Helps Register Over 1 Million Voters
Snapchat said Thursday that is has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through its in-app tool. The move aligns with several recent pushes encouraging voter registration from both companies and notable public figures.
More than half of the 1 million who registered through the social media platform did so in less than a month, the company added.
While the numbers are less than the 2.5 million who have signed up through Facebook, they’re still incredibly important and impressive.
Experts also find them particularly interesting because Snapchat reaches much younger audiences, which could play a huge role in affecting the outcomes in certain areas.
Snapchat said about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24, a Snapchat spokesperson estimated.
On top of that, the company also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states.
The company says it saw more signups to register in Texas than in any other state, with some of the largest additions coming from Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Aside from the in-app registration tool, Snapchat had already been working to helping inform its users about voting with public service announcements from lawmakers in both parties, as well as celebrities and influencers.
In the weeks leading up to the election, Snapchat says it will continue sending reminders to users about early voting deadlines in their states and will ensure that information and news in the app is accurate.
Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik Boost Voter Registration
However, it’s not just social media platforms working to boost voter registration ahead of the election. A ton of big-name celebrities and influencers have been their platforms to do the same.
One unique approach came from none other than Kylie Jenner. She took to Instagram on Monday to post some bikini pics for her 196 million followers, captioning the post: “but are you registered to vote? click the link in my bio.. let’s make a plan to vote together.”
That link directs users to Vote.org, where users can check their voter registration status. According to a TMZ report Wednesday, the thirst trap resulted in “nearly 50,000 potential new registered voters.”
The article went on to say that Vote.org saw a 1500% boost from traffic driven via Instagram, and got over an 80% increase in total users of its voter registration and verification tool from the prior day.
TMZ says all translates to more than 48,000 users going to the site through Kylie’s post.
Those numbers, of course, are likely still rising.
Another massive star encouraging voter registration this week was YouTube’s own David Dobrik.
He’s partnered with HeadCount, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes voter registration, and together they’re giving away five brand new Tesla Model 3s.
View this post on Instagram
Hi!! HeadCount and I are giving away 5 Teslas to you guys!! All you have to do is share this to your story, tag a friend in the comments and make sure you’re good to vote at my link in bio!! Winners will be announced Monday. Good luck!! @headcountorg No purchase or reg necessary. Exclusions apply. Terms and conditions here:http://bit.ly/345p93f #join2020vote #GoodToVote
In order to win, participants must check to see that they are registered to vote on the HeadCount website.
Voter registration is not necessary, but participants will have the opportunity to register if they haven’t yet. The contest started midday Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, HeadCount has said the campaign has been a record-shattering success.
It generated 10,000 new voter registrations within the first hour of launch and allowed 23,000 people to verify that they had already registered within that same time frame.
On Wednesday morning, HeadCount also said the numbers for registrations and verifications had reached 82,000 and 212,000, respectively, which makes this the organization’s largest campaign to date.
By Thursday, the numbers hit 100,000 new registrations and 250,000 verifications, with the HeadCount saying on Instagram, “This is unprecedented in the entire history of celebrity-led voter engagement campaigns.“
“It’s extra inspiring to know that David is a “Dreamer” (DACA recipient) who can’t vote in the U.S, but has used his platform to help others make their voice heard. A true act of patriotism if there ever was one.“
Of course, that number too is expected to get even higher in the coming days. The contest closes at 11:59 p.m ET on Sunday, October 4th. The winners will be randomly selected and announced Monday.
Like in Snapchat’s case, this campaign will no doubt have an impact on younger audiences because Dobrik’s fanbase consists of Gen Z and Millenials. HeadCount says those groups make up 37% of all eligible voters, though they are drastically under-registered.