During their endless search for new young recruits, the United States Army has started utilizing Twitch to get gamers’ contact information. But their tactics now have them under fire.
Twitch has stated that it’s forced the Army to stop using the official Army Twitch channel to find potential recruits through questionable controller giveaways. In the channel’s chat, they would offer viewers the chance to win an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. But once the gamers clicked on the provided link, they’d find themselves on a recruitment page with no further mention of the controller or any sort of contest.
“Per our Terms of Service, promotions on Twitch must comply with all applicable laws. This promotion did not comply with our Terms, and we have required them to remove it,” a Twitch spokesperson told Kotaku via email.
This response came after many members of the streaming community called on Twitch to do something about the US Army’s potentially predatory and possibly fake giveaway.
The silence from @Twitch on the latest wave of criticism regarding the military using the site to scam kids into sharing personal info speaks volumes. Imagine ANY other channel doing that. Feel free to manipulate your viewers as much as you like, I guess?
— 爪卂几 (@MANvsGAME) July 16, 2020
“Hey Twitch, is using your platform to run scams always against the ToS or does the US Army get a special exception when they’re after kids’ blood instead of money?” game developer Bruno Dias tweeted.
This isn’t the first time that Twitch has been called out for their involvement with the US Army. They are also Twitch Rivals sponsors, with the army’s logo appearing on esports tournaments for both League of Legends and Valorant. Some viewers found the sponsored links concerning, since they said things like “your skills can make an impact” and “you can take on anything,” potentially encouraging impressionable young gamers to join up.
The US Army once created their own competitive first-person shooter, America’s Army, in 2002.
Other branches of the military have also been heavily involved with the esports scene. The ESL is sponsored by the US Air Force and the Navy. Prominent esports organization Cloud9 is sponsored by the US Air Force. Major Ross McKnight, chief of the national events branch at the Air Force recruiting services headquarters, had said in the past that a partnership with Cloud9 could make their fans realize “some of the ways in which they can make a difference in the U.S. Air Force.”
It’s no secret that esports tends to draw a young and predominantly male audience. Given the youth of the audience, it’s no surprise that the US Army is attempting to take advantage of the demographic. Still, some people see the military branch’s efforts as unethical, especially now that they’ve appeared to have been lying to get young people’s contact information for future recruiting opportunities.