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US Army Suspends Twitch Streaming Amid Recruitment Concerns and Free Speech Controversies

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  • The U.S. Army has faced substantial blowback for banning Twitch users asking about war crimes on its eSports channel, a move that potentially violates free speech laws.
  • The criticism has been so intense that the Army has now paused streaming on its Twitch channel, which it uses as a recruitment method. 
  • Also on Wednesday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) filed a measure that aims to completely block the military from using Twitch to recruit. 
  • Separately, the Army has come under fire for seemingly hosting a fake giveaway that linked to a recruitment page. Twitch ultimately forced it to remove that giveaway, but the Army maintains that it was a legitimate giveaway.

Army Suspends Twitch Streaming

The United States Army has hit pause on the Twitch channel for its eSports team as of Wednesday, following mounting concerns that it has repeatedly violated First Amendment free speech laws by banning viewers who ask about everything from U.S. war crimes to Eddie Gallagher.

The news of the Army’s banning practice gained traction on July 8 when activist Jordan Uhl posted a clip of him asking about war crimes during a stream on the channel. Notably, the channel is used as a way for the Army to promote recruitment and talk with viewers about life in the military.

“What’s your favorite U.S. w4r cr1me?” Uhl asked after learning that “war crime” was already a banned phrase on the channel. 

Uhl also posted a link in the chatbox to the Wikipedia page for U.S. war crimes. He was then banned. 

“Have a nice time getting banned, my dude,” said Army recruiter and gamer Joshua “Strotnium” David.

On Saturday, Uhl was again banned for asking similar questions, this time on the Twitch channel for the Navy’s eSports team. Reportedly, others asking similar questions were also banned during that stream.

On Wednesday, the Knight First Amendment Institute then demanded that the Army and Navy change their banning practices. It also asked the Army to restore access for not only Uhl but also for 300 others who have been banned for similar comments. 

“When the government intentionally opens a space to the public at large for expressive activity, it has created a ‘public forum’ under the First Amendment, and it cannot constitutionally bar speakers from that forum based on viewpoint,” the Institute said in a letter to the two branches.

Later that same day, the Army announced it would suspend streaming on Twitch to “review internal policies and procedures, as well as all platform-specific policies.”

Still, a spokesperson for the Army has maintained that the branch did not violate free speech laws, arguing that people like Uhl were banned because the term war crimesis “meant to troll and harass the team.” 

AOC Files Measure to the Block Military from Twitch

Also on Wednesday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) announced plans to file an amendment that would block the military from using video games and esports as recruitment methods. 

“It’s incredibly irresponsible for the Army and the Navy to be recruiting impressionable young people and children via live streaming platforms,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“War is not a game,” she added while pointing to the Marine Corps, which is the only branch of the U.S. military that has refused to form an esports team.

For its part, the Marines have said it does not want to “gamify” combat since it is a military agency that deals in combat. 

“The Marine Corps’ decision not to engage in this recruiting tool should be a clear signal to the other branches of the military to cease this practice entirely,” Ocasio-Cortez said. 

Is the Army Violating the First Amendment on Twitch?

Uhl has maintained that he wasn’t simply trying to troll the Army eSports Team; rather, he said the reason he asked questions about war crimes was because he had heard rumors of people receiving bans by the Army and Navy for broaching such topics on their Twitch channels. 

“Was I undiplomatic? Sure,” Uhl said in an article posted on The Nation. “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.”

“While members of military e-sports teams offer the regular gaming skill set, they’re also on-screen talent and recruiters,” Uhl said. “Instead of approaching a recruiter behind a table in a school cafeteria, kids can hang out with one who is playing their favorite video games and replying to their chat messages for hours on end.”

While a normal Twitch streamer can generally moderate their channel however they want, public forums hosted by the government must abide by free speech laws. In fact, there’s even legal precedent to support this. 

For example, in June 2019, a federal appeals court ruled that President Trump can’t block critics from his Twitter account because it constitutes a public forum.

Despite that, in a statement, the Army originally argued that it banned Uhl because he had 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 spokesperson said following the July 8 incident. “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,” the spokesperson added. “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.”

That spokesperson also went on to defend the Army by noting that it offers multiple career paths and that “the goal of the Army eSports Team is to accurately portray that range of opportunities to interested youth.”

Despite that, the statement quickly drew the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union, which responded on Twitter by saying, “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.” 

US Army Caught Seemingly Offering Fake Giveaways

In addition to free speech concerns, the Army has also found itself defending its recruitment practices on the platform.

Last week, Uhl accused the branch of “repeatedly” presenting viewers “with an automated chat prompt that says they could win a Xbox Elite Series 2 controller… and a link where they can enter the ‘giveaway.’” 

However, upon clicking that link, Uhl said he was redirected to a recruiting form with no additional information on the “contest, odds, total number of winners, or when a drawing will occur.”

The news prompted outrage among streamers and game developers who urged Twitch to take action against the Army’s esports channel. 

On Thursday, Twitch finally responded, telling Kotaku that it had forced the Army to stop advertising that giveaway, saying, “This promotion did not comply with our Terms, and we have required them to remove it.” 

Since then, an Army representative has said that, despite transparency issues, a legitimate giveaway system had been in place. 

“Each giveaway has its own URL and marketing activity code that directly connect the registrant to the specific giveaway,” the rep said. “An eligible winner is selected at random, and the prize is given out. Twitch asked our team to remove the giveaway for lack of transparency, and they did. The team is exploring options to use platforms for giveaways that will provide more external clarity.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Kotaku) (Vice)

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Jake Paul Denies Sexual Assault Allegations

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  • YouTuber Jake Paul is denying allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise in the summer of 2019.
  • Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” Paul wrote in a statement Tuesday.
  • He added that he plans on pursuing a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”
  • Paradise, who posted a 20-minute video Friday accusing him of assault, has rejected claims that she lied for attention and said all she wants is an apology.

Jake Paul Denies Allegation

YouTuber Jake Paul denied allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise and said he will pursue legal action against her.

Paradise posted a 20-minute video on Friday claiming that Paul sexually assaulted her in the summer of 2019. She said Paul brought her to his room, where they began kissing, but claimed that she signaled she was uninterested in going any further. She alleged Paul then said, “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?” before unzipping his pants and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.

“He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him,” she said in her video. “Like I couldn’t even tell him not to…He didn’t ask for consent or anything.”

Paul first denied the allegation on Tuesday in a statement via his attorney, Daniel E. Gardenswartz.

“While others have already begun to debunk the claim alleged against him, our client categorically denies the allegation and has every intention of aggressively disproving it and pursuing legal action against those responsible for the defamation of his character,” Gardenswartz said.

“Our client believes that any false allegations diminish the credibility of those who have truly been victims of misconduct.”

Paul Accuses Justine Paradise of Seeking Attention, Financial Gains

Paul then shared a statement of his own on Twitter, where he again denied the claim and said he takes the topic of sexual assault seriously.

“Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” he wrote, referencing his upcoming match against UFC star Ben Askren.

“This individual is directly using the attention from her social media posts and video to promote her adult content website and Amazon shopping list,” Paul continued. He added that he plans to pursue a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”

“At the time of her story I was in a relationship, and as someone who was a momma’s boy growing up, I respect women and mothers more than anything. I most certainly have never laid a finger on a girl without their consent.”

“I will fight this to the end to prove my innocence,” he wrote

Paradise Responds

Paradise responded to his statement on her Instagram story. She specifically criticized Paul for accusing her of lying in order to get gifts and other financial gains. 

“I wasn’t even aware that I still had an Amazon wishlist,” she wrote. “I just checked and there were literally six items on it.”

“I am not looking for gifts or money,” she continued. “I made it very clear that all I wanted from him was an apology. And for him to stop doing this to people.”

She also claimed that since posting her video, a minor came forward to her and shared a similar experience with Paul. She provided no further details about that interaction but encouraged other women to speak to her if they had also been assaulted or harassed by Paul.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (The Washington Post)

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Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault By TikToker Justine Paradise

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  • In a YouTube video shared Friday, TikToker Justine Paradise accused massive social media star Jake Paul of sexually assaulting her in July 2019.
  • She claimed he brought her to his bedroom while she was visiting his home and forced her to perform oral sex on him after she expressed that she did not want to engage in sexual activity.
  • Paul has not issued any statements about the allegations or responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment.

Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault

YouTuber Jake Paul has been accused of sexually assaulting TikToker Justine Paradise during the summer of 2019. 

Paradise posted a 20-minute YouTube video on Friday detailing her accusation. Paul has not yet responded in a public statement to her claims, and his team has not responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment. 

Paradise claimed she met Paul in 2019 after a mutual friend, identified in the video by the pseudonym Michael, invited her to hang out one day. He sent her an address to go to, and when Paradise got there, she was surprised to learn it was the Team 10 House, the mansion Paul purchased for his social media collective. She claimed that when she got there, she had to sign an NDA and have her photo taken.

She said that during her first visit to the house, she and Paul barely interacted but he still asked for her number before she left. She claimed that she and Paul would sometimes text each other and she ended up going back to the house a handful of times over the course of the summer to hang out. 

She stated that on her other visits, she still barely spoke to Paul even though he would text her from across the room or other parts of the house. She described this as “awkward” but thought Paul might not know how to initiate conversation with girls because she saw so many constantly flocking towards him. 

Their dynamic allegedly changed one day when, according to Paradise, Paul grabbed her and kissed her. She said she was okay with this, though she felt slightly uncomfortable that he did so in front of a room full of people. On a separate occasion, though, Paradise claimed he crossed the line.

Paradise alleged that on the night between July 19 and July 20, she and others were hanging out at the house when Paul grabbed her hand and started walking around with her, which she thought was “cute.” She said he then took her to his room, but she did not necessarily view this as something that inherently meant they would have sexual relations. 

“People have brought me to their rooms before and I’m their friend and they’re literally just trying to show me their room,” she explained in her video. “Or they just want to talk to me away from the crowd of people. Or sometimes they are trying to do something sexual but if I say no, they respect it.” 

Details of Allegation

She said that they first were chatting, then started dancing, and then started kissing before he moved things to his bed. She stated that she wanted to just keep it at kissing and thought he would understand. 

“Normally, everybody respects me when I don’t want to do sexual things, so I thought it was fine if I went in his room and I thought it would be fine to kiss him because I thought he would stop if I didn’t want to do anything else,” she said. 

She claimed Paul would place his hands on her body, or move her hands onto his, but that she rejected those advances by moving their hands off of each other. She also alleged that Paul likely knew her refusal to touch him was a signal that she did not to go any further, as she claimed he responded by saying “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?”

“What’s the point?” she continued, “I don’t know? I don’t know, maybe I can be one of your friends. Maybe I can just be someone that you kiss.” 

Paradise said she was shocked by his response as no one had ever responded to her that way before, so she felt incredibly uncomfortable, but she claimed that Paul’s actions did not stop there. 

“This is the point where, if what he wanted was sex, he sees he’s not going to get it, this is the point where we would just go elsewhere, go back downstairs where everyone is,” she said.

Instead, however, Paradise claimed that Paul stood up, undid his pants, and forced her to perform oral sex. She explained that she felt especially violated because she views oral sex as incredibly intimate and has only done it with two or three other people, but she did not know how to make him stop.

“What am I supposed to do? He was literally…I was still laying down,” she said. “He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him. Like I couldn’t even tell him not to.”

“He didn’t ask for consent or anything,” she continued. “Like he knew I didn’t want to do anything with him because he said ‘If nothing’s going to happen what’s the point?’ And then he just shoves himself in me.” 

Aftermath of Alleged Assault

Paradise said the assault did not last very long, but she was left feeling confused in the immediate aftermath. She claimed that once it was over, he insisted that they needed to leave his room and go to the studio in the house, where everyone else was hanging out. She added that he got frustrated and slightly aggressive when she said she wanted to take time to collect herself and fix her hair before other people saw her. She described this as a big change in personality for Paul, because he had apparently been very friendly with her before this incident. 

Paradise claimed that once she rejoined the crowd, she told her friend Michael about what happened. He called the situation “horrible” and stated he would talk to Paul himself. She claimed she ended up spending the rest of the night at the Team 10 House and provided Snapchats of herself with a puffy face from crying with a location tag in Calabasas as evidence. She also shared other pictures she took at the house and other text messages allegedly exchanged between her and Paul. 

She said that Paul never contacted her again after this night, even though she attempted to reach out to him to talk about what happened. She added that she was unsure if her friend Michael reached out to Paul, but if he ever did, Paul never apologized. 

“Honestly, I don’t think it was anything significant to him,” she explained in the video. “Like I said there was a different girl with him every day, I don’t even know if he would remember me.” 

Paradise claimed she has thought about this incident nearly every day since it happened. Her intent in posting the video was to reach out to Paul so he can learn about what he did to her and how it made her feel. She also asserted that she feels a lot of men do not change their bad behavior unless they are called out publicly. 

Paradise said she wants her video to serve as a warning to other girls who might find themselves in a similar situation. She addressed the fact that some people may not believe her and accuse her of doing this for clout, but insisted she just wants to tell what she feels is an important story. 

“Am I doing this for attention? Yeah, I do want attention on this,” she explained. “Because it’s a problem that’s real and deserves attention.” 

Responses

On Friday, her video became a popular topic of discussion on Twitter. Many pulled up TikToks she had previously posted, including one where she mentioned a YouTuber assaulting her and having to sign an NDA. Some also shared an update to that video, where Paradise claimed she was talking to a reporter about the situation. 

Other major creators, including YouTuber Trisha Paytas, uploaded Paradise and other survivors for speaking out, and urged people to take the accusations seriously.

“I’m glad victims are comfortable speaking up more and more,” she wrote. “This disgusting behavior should be put on blast – predators, rapists need appropriate punishments and not just “being cancelled” temporarily and back on a pedestal the next month.”

For his part, Paul has been posting his usual content on social media to promote his upcoming fight. Many people are urging him to respond to the accusations. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Daily Dot) (Unilad)

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New Streaming Metrics Highlight Staggering Gap Between Male and Female Gamers

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  • Valkyrae and Pokimane are the two most-watched female gamers in the world, bringing in 12.2 million and 6.8 million hours of watch time in the first quarter of 2021, respectively.
  • The data comes from a new report by Stream Hatchet, which also showed that streaming remains a heavily male-dominated industry despite recent increases in the number of female gaming streamers.
  • On its list of top 100 streamers ranked by hours watched, Valkyrae and Pokimaine were the only two women included, placing 27th and 98th.
  • For comparison, the top streamer overall was xQc, a male variety gamer who raked in over 73 million hours of watch time.

Valkyrae Leads Female Streamer List by Giant Margin

Female streamers like Valkyrae and Pokimane have each amassed millions of followers and have become household names in gaming, but a new report shows that women in the industry are still affected by a massive gender gap. 

In its findings for the first quarter of 2021, Stream Hatchet, which tracks metrics among gaming streamers, found that Valkyrae easily topped the most-watched female streamers chart with 12.2 million hours of watch time across Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming. That’s a leap of double from the 6 million hours that she brought in during the third quarter of last year.

Pokimane followed Valkyrae as the second most-watched female streamer during Q1 of this year, with 6.8 million hours viewed.

Men Dominate Overall Streamer List 

Still, the report makes clear that “the male/female streamer gap is… substantial,” as Valkyrae actually ranks 27th if both male and female streamers are grouped together. Pokimane falls farther down that same list at the 98th spot. Of the top 100 streamers, they are the only two women on the list.

In fact, just looking at the overall top 10 streamers for most hours watched, the numbers showcase a staggering divide. 

For example, variety streamer xQc topped the list with over 73 million hours watched. Other popular streamers such as Ludwig and Shroud came in lower on the top 10, but both were still very well above the 20 million hours mark.

One factor that could explain this massive discrepancy is the fact that, historically, the gaming sphere has been dominated by men. In 2017, it was reported that over 81.5% of all Twitch users were male, despite the Entertainment Software Association estimating that 41% of gamers are female. 

By 2019, the percentage of female users on Twitch grew to 35%, with male users making up the other 65%. No statistics have been published regarding the makeup of non-binary users on the platform. 

One interesting note with this report is that for the top gaming V-Tubers, the opposite seems to be true: Women overwhelmingly dominate the sphere. One female Twitch V-Tuber even saw an astronomical growth of 274%.

As Stream Hatchet noted, “Most VTubers broadcast in Japanese or Korean, and as a result, there are strong similarities between VTubing and Anime.”

Generally, Streaming Has Surged

More generally, Stream Hatchet reported that live streaming audiences have continued to “skyrocket.” In fact, between January and March, the number of daily hours watched increased 80% from the same timeframe last year.

Twitch also dominated as the top streaming platform, with 8.8 billion hours watched compared to YouTube’s 1.4 billion hours and Facebook Gaming’s 1.1 billion hours. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (GameRant)

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