The U.S. House of Representatives voted down a measure that would have prevented U.S. armed forces from recruiting in game-streaming platforms like Twitch.
The amendment U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) presented to the floor on Thursday would have forced the U.S. Army and other branches of the armed services to suspend all activities on Twitch “or any video game, e-sports, or live-streaming platform.” In an opening statement presenting the bill, Ocasio-Cortez cited the U.S. Marine Corps’ “stance” that “war is not a game.”
However, when the amendment was brought to a vote, just 126 Democrats stood with Ocasio-Cortez. Another 103 Democrats, 188 Republicans, and one Independent voted against the measure. The decision paved the way for the armed services to continue promoting their activities and recruiting in video games.
After losing the vote, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to decry the lack of technology literacy in Congress. “Imagine trying to explain to your colleagues who are members of Congress what Twitch is,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. In a subsequent tweet, she cautioned that “when our legislative bodies aren’t sufficiently responsive to tech, then that means we don’t have the tools required to protect people.”
The vote followed the U.S. Army announcing plans earlier this month to temporarily halt its Twitch marketing after a string of reports said the Army was using giveaways and other perks to attract people to recruitment pages.
In her statement before the House on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said the Army’s recruiting activities on Twitch intentionally targeted children as young as 12 or 13 and said they were “bombarded with banner ads that link to recruitment sign-up forms.”
Twitch ultimately blocked the Army’s recruiting because it ran afoul of the streaming platform’s policies. The Army was also accused of banning users from its Twitch channel when they asked about war crimes.
Although the Army said it will revisit how it uses Twitch, it’s been actively using video games to recruit young players for years. Last year the department established its own e-sports team with more than 7,000 soldiers competing in tournaments across the U.S. It’s also sponsored a host of gaming tournaments and in 2002 launched its own video game, America’s Army.