AOC doubles down on removing military recruitment from Twitch - Dexerto

AOC doubles down on removing military recruitment from Twitch

Published: 30/Jul/2020 23:02 Updated: 31/Jul/2020 9:09

by Theo Salaun


After earlier condemnations of the US military’s recruitment practices on Twitch, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has reiterated her opposition with an amendment to a federal defense spending bill that was passed by voice vote. 

The H.R. 7617 Department of Defense Appropriations Act dictates US military spending for 2021 and Ocasio-Cortez has produced an amendment, No. 49, to ensure that said budget does not contribute to recruitment on Twitch and similar platforms. This amendment, which is in line with the Marine Corps official position on recruitment and more general protections of the 1st amendment and underage recruitment guidelines, was passed via voice vote but will be officially tallied once the House reconvenes. [Update: AOC’s amendment was shot down 292-126.]

AOC’s original response was elicited by the surfacing of the US Army Esports channel’s presence on Twitch with questionable practices of recruiting underage gamers and simultaneously bans of anyone who asked about war crimes. While the former bypasses recruitment guidelines and the latter contradicts the right to free speech, AOC’s newest point of emphasis ties into the Marine Corps’ ideological position on gaming.

While Army Esports went from generating 3,500 recruitment leads in 2019 to over 13,000 so far in 2020, the Marine Corps, despite having the youngest force of all branches, has proclaimed that it is ideologically opposed to recruitment via gaming: “The brand and issues associated with combat are too serious to be ‘gamified’ in a responsible manner.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment, despite being approved by voice vote on the floor, is not unanimous and its “yeas and nays” were ordered (designating the need for an official vote) by Congressman Ken Calvert, who also ceded some of his time to the bill’s original author, Congressman Peter Visclovsky, for response against AOC.

In his rebuttal, Visclovsky agreed that he does “find recent media reports on the army esports team and the banning of commentators concerning” and that oversight is needed to ensure that the military’s Twitch channels, which have been set for 18-year-old audiences and older since August 2019, do not bypass age restrictions. 

He also noted that “Army Esports has taken a pause on streaming and is reviewing its internal policies and procedures” and that “we on the committee certainly look forward to seeing the results of that review.”

While many had noted the Army Esports channel’s streaming pause, it was not known until now that it coincides with an internal review process. Chief among the practices deserving review are the usage of nebulous prized contests that seem to simply lead to recruitment information sign-ups for kids as young as 13 and the banning of Twitch users who ask controversial questions about the American military’s history.

Congressmen and women, like California’s Ro Khanna, have been adamant in their support of AOC’s amendment following her exposure of an issue gamers brought to light. Khanna, specifically, reiterated the Marine Corps’ insistence that gaming is an uncomfortable foundation upon which to ground recruitment efforts, as the fun of shooting games and their impressionable, young audiences blend together in a way that detracts from the gravity of warfare.

As AOC expanded upon in her own speech, “we should restrain and restrict ourselves from explicit recruitment tactics … on platforms that children are using to play games from Animal Crossing to Call of Duty.”

Twitch embodies the rise of emerging technology and the vote on AOC’s amendment demonstrates welcomed attentiveness to a concerned, growing gaming community.


Twitch slammed for failing to moderate their own channel’s chat

Published: 24/Jan/2021 17:19

by Luke Edwards


Twitch has received backlash after the chat in its own official channel was full of hateful comments during the Participation Awards ceremony.

As part of Twitch’s celebration of its community, on January 23 it held a Participation Awards to commemorate the work of their streamers and the community.

The stream focused on using Twitch chat as a direct medium between the hosts and viewers. But, as the event was running, some, including partnered streamers, criticized Twitch for ineffectively moderating the messages in chat.

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Twitch was criticized as hateful comments went unmoderated.

Twitch partner and variety streamer negaoryx called out the platform for allowing the chat to be ‘full’ of hate speech and harassment towards the guests and hosts of the awards.

“I am unfathomably angry at the lack of protection and care Twitch shows its marginalized creators,” she said.

“Users in chat are spewing hate speech & harassing the guest streamers. 3 mod names in the chat list but since I’ve been watching, have seen ZERO messages get deleted.

“I can’t even watch & enjoy this stream because I’m spending my time reporting every hateful, harassing comment I see. How hard is it to have even ONE person moderate these official Twitch streams?”

MsAshRocks, who appeared as the final guest on the stream, also urged Twitch to clamp down on hate speech. She said: “I mentioned a slither of fundraising for [BLM] protesters and they went wild LMAO.”

Tanya “CypherofTyr” DePass, director of gaming diversity non-profit I Need Diverse Games, echoed the calls, as she said: “It’s why I never watch the actual main Twitch/Twitch Gaming channels but host on mine so we have a safe spot to watch.”

Another Twitch partner, Imperial, praised negaoryx for speaking out and labeled the situation a “systemic problem” within Twitch.

She said: “I’ve had to call local police after doxing threats, so many racist comments and usernames that I saw no action on. Months of steady harassment. Do better.”

Twitch has not yet responded publicly to the situation.

This wasn’t the only debacle from the stream. It turns out that one of the awards was inadvertently handed out to a bot account, rather than a real person.

It’s been a turbulent few days for the platform, as users condemned their decision to ban a 15-year-old streamer with 90,000 followers because he had made his account when he was under 13. Meanwhile, other top streamers on the platform who also made their account when under 13 have gone unpunished.