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Congress defeats bill to block US military from recruiting via Twitch

US Navy and Army have stated they will continue to stream on popular games site

A proposed amendment to stop US military forces from advertising its recruitment initiatives via livestreaming site Twitch has been defeated.

US Representative from New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led the efforts to get the bill passed by Congress during a session before the House Committee last night.

Had this been successful, an amendment would have been made to the House Committee on Appropriations bill, which partly governs how the annual budget for the Pentagon is set, The Verge reports.

However, CNN Business reporter Shannon Liao reports the final vote ws 292 nays to 126 yeas, so the amendment will not be adopted.

Earlier during the vote, when it was clear a majority would oppose the bill, Liao tweeted that the US Navy and Army had stated they will continue to stream via Twitch.

The proposed bill follows recent attempts to stop the military recruiting gamers by advertising on Twitch. Earlier this month, the site ordered the US Army to stop promoting a giveaway on its official Twitch channel.

While the ads promised the chance to win an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, the link went to a recruitment form with no mention of a contest, timing of the drawing, how many people would win, or the odds of winning.

Following a backlash, the US Army appeared to pause its Twitch streaming and social media activities.

During her speech, Ocasio-Cortez told the Committee that Twitch was "largely populated by children well under the age of military recruitment age."

"Children as young as 13 and often as young as 12 are targeted for recruitment form that can be filled online," she said. "This amendment is in direct alignment with... the values that children should not be targeted in general for many marketing purposes in addition to military service."

She cited various examples of how the military was using the site to direct people to its websites, including the aforementioned giveaway. She noted that these can be submitted by children as young as 12 and "are not education outreach programs but recruitment forms for the military."

Ocasio-Cortez stressed that interventions such as hers should be taken "extraordinarily seriously" because "once these lights are turned on, it's very difficult to roll them back."

She also added that this extends beyond Twitch to social media in general. She cited a US Army Twitter competition with messages like "Register to win" without making it clear what participants could win. The link led to a form with the "tiny disclosure" that entering gave consent to be contacted by military recruiters.

"When it comes to issues of technology, I believe we should act with reservation and caution first, rather than entering with both feet in and trying to undo damage that could potentially be done," she said.

Following the vote, Ocasio-Cortez focused on some of the positives, noting that the majority of the Democratic party supported the amendment.

"That's a really solid start for this being the first time this issue has been before Congress," she tweeted.

According to Liao, no Republicans voted for Ocasio-Cortez's bill, while 103 Democrats voted nay.

The Army has been using Twitch and esports to recruit for a few years now. Back in May, Military.com reported that the US Army generated 3,500 recruitment leads esports in the previous financial year. For the current fiscal year, the figure stands at more than 13,000.

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