Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was dealt a series of blows on Monday when Apple and Spotify decided to remove nearly all of Infowars’ podcasts, and Facebook banned several of his pages.
Facebook, which had imposed a 30-day ban on Jones’ personal page last week, removed four Infowars-related pages on Monday — the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page, and the Infowars Nightly News Page. The pages will be removed permanently if Jones doesn’t appeal the ruling.
In an extensive blog post, Facebook explained that the new bans are not in relation to already-removed videos, but for consistent glorification of violence and dehumanizing language. Facebook added that “while much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news…none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this.”
On Sunday evening, Apple decided to remove all but one of Infowars’ podcasts. “Real News with David Knight,” which focuses on a re-capping the daily news, remains. Apple, one of the largest podcast and stream providers, amassing more than 50 billion total streams and downloads, told Buzzfeed News the decision had been made under the company’s hate speech guidelines.
Last week, we asked @Apple how the harassment of Sandy Hook parents and Vegas shooting victims didn’t violate their Terms of Service. Tonight, they decided that it did.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) August 6, 2018
“Podcasts that violate these [hate speech] guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming,” a spokesperson said. “We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
Spotify also confirmed it had removed all episodes of The Alex Jones show from its streaming service after Right Wing Watch noted last week that it was hosting Jones’ show, despite clear violations of the hate content policy which prohibits material that “incited hatred or violence against against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality [or] sexual orientation.”
Jones is currently facing battles on several fronts. While at the same time being de-platformed by major websites like Apple and Facebook, he is also in the midst of three defamation lawsuits.
The first of these to reach court is the case of Leonard Pozner, the father of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012. Pozner, along with families of eight other Sandy Hook victims, argues Jones’ defamatory statements and “crisis actor” conspiracy theories have inspired waves of trolling, harassment, and death threats against their families.
Jones is also being sued by Brennan Gilmore, a survivor of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, who claims that Jones’ accusation that he was a “deep state” operative “threatened his physical and emotional well-being.”
Both the lawsuits and de-platforming present a massive problem for Jones: a quick glance at Infowars’ still-active YouTube page shows dozens of videos about Infowars being censored.
As BuzzFeed technology reporter Charlies Warzel pointed out last week, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has been slipping into irrelevance ever since his Twitter ban in 2016. It remains to be seen whether or not tech companies threats of bans and suspensions, which previously have done little to deter Jones, will finally cause him to hang up the conspiracy theories as well.
UPDATE: YouTube has apparently removed Alex Jones’ official channel from its platform. A quick search for Jones’ channel Monday afternoon yielded an empty page with a disclaimer stating the account had been removed for “violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
Alex Jones' Infowars channel appears no more pic.twitter.com/FHjnNeDUdW
— Luke Barnes (@LukeBarnes_92) August 6, 2018
ThinkProgress has reached out to YouTube spokespersons for comment. In a statement to CNBC, spokespersons said the decision was made to ban Jones’ page because he had broken the site’s rules against harassment and hate speech.
“All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube,” they said. “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.”