As I previously wrote, social media has not been too kind to conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host Alex Jones. Last week, YouTube removed a handful of his videos and prohibited him from live streaming for 90 days, and Facebook suspended Alex Jones’ personal account from posting for 30 days.
Over the weekend, Apple removed his podcast from their directory.
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Earlier today, Facebook announced that they have completely removed all of the Alex Jones/InfoWars pages due to violating their community standards. In an unprecedented move, Facebook explained their rationale in their announcement:
… More content from the same Pages has been reported to us — upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.(Facebook)
All four Pages have been unpublished for repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes. While much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news, which is a serious issue that we are working to address by demoting links marked wrong by fact checkers and suggesting additional content, none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this.
And just a few hours later, YouTube made the announcement that they, too, would be removing Alex Jones’ accounts from their platform:
All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube. When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.(Polygon)
I could not be happier with this news.
As I said last week, this is not a matter of censorship. Censorship pertains to blocking the free flow of ideas, which Facebook and YouTube are not engaging in.
What happened is Facebook and YouTube developed a backbone. They knew that there would be massive pushback if they prohibited Jones and InfoWars from existing on their platforms. Perhaps the suspensions last week was more about dipping their toes in the water to see how much flack they would catch for it before going for a complete elimination of InfoWars?
What this ultimately comes down to is the fact that Alex Jones repeatedly and consistently created and perpetuated outright false stories. Jones is the primarily culprit behind the Sandy Hook “false flag” conspiracy – the belief that, for some unknown reason the government wanted kids and teachers to die and the other victims/families to be scarred for life – and the PizzaGate conspiracy that resulted in a lunatic shooting up Comet Ping Pong outside of Washington DC.
Incidents like this are directly a result of Alex Jones’ and InfoWars’ propagation of conspiracies that have resulted in emotional and tangible physical damage.
This isn’t about censorship of ideas, this is about controlling wilful deceit.
As I said last week: I am all for protecting people’s ability to freely share information. The only way to overcome bad ideas is by replacing them with better ones. We’re all very familiar with what happens when an authority figure tries to stamp out a really, really bad ideology using force.
But in the case of Alex Jones, it’s not simply a “battle of ideas.” He’s lying. Things that are not true do not fall under the umbrella of being part of an ideology. They’re just false statements. He’s spreading things that are not true.
When a platform is used by someone in a way to repeatedly spread demonstrably false information and when they repeatedly encourages violence, they forfeit their ability to use that platform. Sites like InfoWars, and people like Alex Jones, have repeatedly done these things and do not deserve to have a voice on these platforms.