Call of Duty: Twitch: 1, US Military: 0
By: Jiho Chung
In efforts to recruit Gen Z to the military, the Army and Navy turned their attention to the very popular live streaming medium known as Twitch. The idea of active military members broadcasting themselves on Twitch, playing well-liked first-person shooter titles like “Call of Duty: Warzone” and “Counterstrike,” and befriending potential recruits all seemed like the perfect basis to enlist the next wave of soldiers especially during a pandemic. However, their presence has had an adverse effect on the platform’s audience, who’ve been banned (a total of 467 accounts) due to their anonymous complaints about war crimes in the military’s virtual channels.
As it turns out, these bans by both the Army and Navy weren’t justified as rights groups and lawmakers have pointed out that it was rather unconstitutional to block one’s viewpoint in public forums especially when targeting a high number of potentially underaged users. (For background, Twitch doesn’t verify ages of those watching their streaming content.) Furthermore, on July 22, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez filed for a draft amendment for a bill to stop federal funding of military presence on Twitch.
And though the bill didn’t pass, the Army has since unbanned said accounts and returned back to streaming despite still drawing backlash from the Twitch community especially when it came under scrutiny that they were also attracting registrants through electronic giveaways earlier in July. Much like the lawmakers who wanted to regulate Facebook in 2018, this was a campaign that the military wasn’t prepared for or simply just understood despite its firepower.