Twitter finally gives Alex Jones and Infowars the boot following altercation

7 Sep 2018

Alex Jones. Image: Belltreephotography/Shutterstock

Twitter’s ban of Alex Jones comes in the wake of other platforms clamping down in past weeks.

Right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is permanently banned from Twitter, along with the account associated with his media company, Infowars.

The ban seems to be related to a heated spat Jones got into with a CNN reporter on Wednesday (5 September).

A public altercation

Jones had accosted CNN reporter Oliver Darcy outside the congressional hearings in Washington DC. He also got into an altercation with senator Marco Rubio. Darcy was targeted by Jones as the reporter had publicly asked Facebook how it could continue to give Jones a platform while claiming to combat hate speech earlier this summer. Jones accused Darcy of bullying tech firms into banning him.

Jones used Twitter’s Periscope app to broadcast himself shouting accusations at Darcy, while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was testifying inside the halls of Congress. 

The company tweeted: “Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope. We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behaviour policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.”

Dorsey changes his tune

Prior to the outright ban, Dorsey had defended Twitter’s former position of allowing Jones on the platform, before deciding to temporarily de-platform him for a week last month. 

According to The New York Times, visits to Infowars since Jones’ Facebook and YouTube bans dropped by roughly half, to just 715,000 site visits daily. 

Twitter added that it would take further action if other accounts were used “in an attempt to circumvent” the ban on Jones and his website. 

Media watchdog Media Matters told that while the ban is a positive thing, in its view, Twitter was not quick enough to act. President of Media Matters, Angelo Carusone, said: “Twitter was the last major tech platform to see what is obvious: Jones used Twitter in clear violation of the rules to perpetuate hate speech and harassment.

“Alex Jones’ harassment of CNN’s Oliver Darcy was par for the course for Jones’ behaviour – Twitter is using it to save face and ban him now. It wasn’t until Jones came face to face with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that Jones was permanently banned from the platform, raising serious questions about when and how Twitter is willing to enforce its terms of service.”

Alex Jones. Image: Belltreephotography/Shutterstock

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