The US House of Representatives has voted against an amendment presented by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), that would have prevented the US army and navy from using their budget towards staying on Twitch.
In Mid-July Twitch halted a promotion on the official Twitch channel for the United States Army eSports, after it was revealed to send users to a recruitment page without their consent or prior warning.
The military has also been criticized for its use of Twitch as a recruitment platform. Currently Twitch requires all registrants to be age thirteen and up, and the platform also boasts being able to reach 80% of male teens in the United States.
Users have also been banned from the channel for asking provocative questions about the military’s recruitment strategies, or for linking the Wikipedia article to war crimes committed by the United States (alleged and otherwise).
eSports journalist Rod Breslau reported on the 22nd that sources told him “due to recent media coverage of fake giveaways and potentially unconstitutional bans, the US Army esports team has paused social activity, streaming on Twitch, and official activations with Twitch including participating in upcoming Twitch Rivals events.”
“According to one email seen,” Breslau states, “while there is no official time frame for a return of the US Army across social media or on their Twitch channel, official marketing activations may not see a return until all the way in Spring 2021. […] This is only a temporary pause from the US Army’s side. Twitch continues to have an official partnership with the US Army and Navy.”
That same day, Vice reported that Ocasio-Cortez had plans to file an amendment to prevent the military using Pentagon funds from the House Appropriations bill to “maintain a presence on Twitch.com or any video game, e-sports, or live-streaming platform.”
Ocasio-Cortez told Vice “It’s incredibly irresponsible for the Army and the Navy to be recruiting impressionable young people and children via live streaming platforms. War is not a game, and 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.”
Now, Kotaku reports that the House has voted against the amendment. This was despite Ocasio-Cortez presenting the argument that the US Army and Navy (who had also fallen under scrutiny for banning users asking about war crimes) were “gamifying” war, and appealing to children as young as 12 or 13.
The amendment vote had 126 Yea (all democrats), 292 Nay (103 democrats, 188 republicans, 1 independent), and 13 Non-Voting (3 democrats, 10 republicans). Ocasio-Cortez would later imply on Twitter that the age of those voting made explaining her concerns difficult.
“Imagine trying to explain to your colleagues who are members of Congress what Twitch is [Crying Emoji]
[…] It’s totally fine if you don’t know what Twitch is. But tech literacy is becoming an growing need in Congress so we can legislate to protect people’s privacy, etc.
When our legislative bodies aren’t sufficiently responsive to tech, then that means we don’t have the tools required to protect people.
This is partially why companies know way more about you than you may even be aware of – bc it’s legal, and Congress is struggling to keep up.”