July 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy said its esports team will resume streaming on the Twitch social media channel on Friday, after pausing several weeks ago to review guidelines.
The esports team, called Goats and Glory, is comprised of Navy personnel engaged in military-oriented video games, welcoming online observers to watch and chat.
A Navy statement on Thursday said the program is "designed for outreach and awareness" and is specifically not a recruiting tool, although anyone inquiring about Navy enlistment is directed to a recruiting website.
The Navy esports team planned to return to the Internet on Friday, the statement said.
The team, and another formed by the U.S. Army, banned about 300 viewers after questions about war crimes were brought up. First Amendment advocacy groups, notably the Knight First Amendment Institute, decried the bans last week, demanding that viewer privileges be restored.
"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 last week in letters to the Army and Navy.
The institute's opinion led to a week-long pause of esports streaming to "review internal policies and procedures, as well as platform-specific policies, to ensure guidelines for participating in the space are clear," Thursday's statement from the Navy said.
Each service branch has an esports team, used not only to play video games but to answer questions posed to active and reserve personnel on a variety of matters, including life in the military.
"Esports is just an avenue to start a conversation,"Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, Army Recruiting Command chief, said in an interview in July. "We go out there and we have a shared passion for esports, and it naturally devolves into a conversation ... 'What do you do?' 'I'm in the army.'"
The outreach included a chat, since dropped after viewer complaints, offering prizes in a giveaway to viewers who clicked a certain link. That link took them to a military recruiting website, which Twitch, a platform owned by Amazon.com, said is a a violation of its terms of service.
An amendment to the House Committee on Appropriations bill setting the Pentagon budget, calling for a ban on military recruiting on Twitch, failed in a House vote on Thursday.
"Children should not be targeted in general for many marketing purposes in addition to military service," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said on the House floor in support of the amendment.
"Right now, currently,children on platforms such as Twitch are bombarded with banner ads linked to recruitment signup forms that can be submitted by children as young as 12 years old," Ocasio-Cortez said. "These are not education outreach programs for the military."