Tech firms clamp down on Alex Jones and Infowars

7 Aug 2018

An Infowars reporter faces protestors at the March For Our Lives in Austin, Texas. Image: Vic Hinterlang/Shutterstock

American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is booted from several major online platforms.

Alex Jones, the controversial US conspiracy theorist who claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax, has been pulled offline by some tech firms. According to Apple, it removed five out of six of Jones’ podcasts, including The Alex Jones Show, on Monday (5 August). According to BuzzFeed News, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify then followed Apple’s example.

Last week, Spotify had removed a selection of episodes from its platform, but the entire back catalogue of The Alex Jones Show has since been wiped.

Hate speech violations

An Apple spokesperson told Business Insider: “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

The Infowars app is still available to download from the App Store.

Dehumanising language used by Jones

Facebook removed a number of pages related to Jones and Infowars. This followed a ban of 30 days on Jones personally for his “role in posting violating content to these pages”.

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Guardian that content posted to the pages was being reported to moderators. She added that Facebook has taken the pages down for using “dehumanising language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants”.

The spokesperson noted that the removal was relate to the hate speech incidents, as opposed to the conspiracies around events such as 9/11 and Sandy Hook Jones is notorious for peddling.

YouTube severs ties with Alex Jones

The biggest sting for Jones is the decision taken by YouTube to terminate his account. The company didn’t explicitly refer to Jones in its statement, but it said: “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.” Jones’ channel had close to 2.5m subscribers and had accrued more than 1bn views over its lifespan.

YouTube apparently made this choice as Jones was circumventing a 90-day ban by appearing on livestereams hosted on other channels. Last month, podcast app Stitcher also removed Jones’ podcast.

Twitter has said it will be leaving accounts for Jones and Infowars live for the time being, according to CNBC. A spokesperson for the company said it was continually moderating content on its platform, adding that much of the offending content posted on the other platforms does not make it to Twitter.

An Infowars reporter faces protestors at the March For Our Lives in Austin, Texas. Image: Vic Hinterlang/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects