The US Army, Navy, and Air Force all have esports teams comprised of active and reserve personnel who stream on Twitch. Through the popular social streaming platform, they play video games, chat with viewers and, according to a report by The Nation, actively recruit young people.
What They’re Doing
There is nothing wrong with members of the military trying to bring in new recruits. The US military protects this country and has long relied on this practice. Indeed, representatives often visit high schools, colleges, and community centers to talk with young people about signing up.
However, Twitch is a much more dedicated environment. Users can spend hours online chatting with other users — including servicemen and women whose gaming experience they might admire — without their parents knowing about it. And what’s most troubling is when these gamer/recruiters use techniques to trick young people into filling out recruitment forms.
The Nation found automatic links dropped into the Army’s stream chat, which told viewers they could win an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller in a giveaway. However, the links didn’t send them to a giveaway page. According to The Nation, the link sent users to “a recruiting form with no additional mention of a contest, odds, total number of winners, or when a drawing will occur.”
Other Twitch streamers slammed the US Army for the “scams,” and Twitch for allowing them.
“Hey Twitch, is using your platform to run scams always against the [terms of service] or does the US Army get a special exception when they’re after kids’ blood instead of money?” game developer Bruno Dias wrote on Twitter.
Criticisms Against US Army Twitch Channel
This isn’t the first time the Twitch channel has come under fire. Last week, the channel was accused of banning viewers who discussed war crimes in the chat. The Nation also reported that those discussing the military’s recruiting practice were threatened with bans.
In a Navy stream, a user wrote, “I see you guys are upgrading from recruiting out of low-income schools, nice.” Then, the recruiter told the user they would be banned if they discussed recruiting practices again.
Kotaku confirmed that Twitch is removing the “giveaway” from the US Army channel.
“Per our Terms of Service, promotions on Twitch must comply with all applicable laws,” a Twitch spokesperson told Kotaku in an email. “This promotion did not comply with our Terms, and we have required them to remove it.”
US Army Twitch — Sources
Kotaku: Twitch Forces U.S. Army To Stop Tricking Viewers With Fake Giveaways
The Nation: The US Military Is Using Online Gaming to Recruit Teens
The Verge: Twitch tells US Army to stop sharing fake prize giveaways that sent users to the recruitment page