Twitter slapped far-right radio hobbyist and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on the wrist this week, suspending him from its platform for one week.
The company says Jones violated its community guidelines against inciting violence when he posted a Periscope video Monday, calling on supporters to “have their battle rifles and everything ready at their bedsides” so they could “act on the enemy before they do a false flag.”
“We’re under attack and you know that, and you pointed out mainstream media is the enemy,” Jones said in the rambling video, also referring to the “Chinese Communists” (or “ChiCom” as Jones called them) and “traitors” who he claimed were “trying to take the First Amendment.”
“But now it’s time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag,” he continued. “…Let’s do it. Because they’re coming. … They think they can really take down America. And this is it. So, people need to have their battle rifles and everything ready at their bedsides and you got to be ready because the media is so disciplined in their deception. Antifa attacked all these people at the White House, beat up reporters, beat up women, children, no coverage.”
Jones has since been blocked from posting on the site and placed in “read-only” mode, according to The New York Times, which means he can access his account, browse the site, and read others’ posts and responses, but will be unable to reply or tweet anything himself.
His suspension will be lifted after seven days.
Jones has a long history of making discriminatory, violent, or racist comments which have gotten him booted from most of the internet’s biggest platforms, but he’s managed to keep his Twitter account active up until now, thanks largely to Twitter’s reluctance to enforce its own policies.
Jones and his conspiracy site Infowars were recently banned from several social media platforms, including Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube. Facebook last week said it had removed four Infowars-related pages, citing “consistent glorification of violence and dehumanizing language.” The removal came one week after the site also banned Jones’ personal verified page for 30 days.
Apple and Spotify also banned Infowars’ podcasts from their libraries last week due to “hate speech,” and YouTube followed a short time later, saying Jones had violated its community guidelines prohibiting “hate speech and harassment.”
Twitter, however, showed no signs of relenting. In a series of tweets last Tuesday, CEO Jack Dorsey tried to justify the decision by claiming Jones had not technically broken the site’s rules.
“He hasn’t violated our rules,” Dorsey wrote. “We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”
If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.
— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
However, Dorsey’s claim was quickly debunked after a CNN report revealed Jones and Infowars had in fact violated Twitter’s community guidelines on more than a dozen separate occasions. As ThinkProgress previously noted, the tweets in question included baseless conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings, anti-LGBTQ comments, content glorifying child abuse, and targeted harassment of media figures and journalists.
The tweets were eventually deleted, although a Twitter spokesperson claimed the company was not responsible for their removal.
On Thursday, a company spokesperson confirmed the CNN report, but said it would still not ban Jones or Infowars because most of the tweets had been posted prior to Twitter’s implementation of stricter community guidelines in December. Two tweets posted after the guidelines were enacted would be used “to take additional punitive action against Jones’ accounts” later, if necessary.
“We will continue to review any content that is flagged to us and take action as appropriate,” they said.
Wednesday’s temporary suspension appears to have been the culmination of those watered down threats.
For now, Jones appears to have been relegated to far-right social platform Gab, a Twitter-like service rife with white supremacists and conspiracy theorists.
Jones is currently being sued by a number of families, specifically the parents of several mass shooting victims and a survivor of last year’s car attack on counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally, who say Jones has fueled death threats against them and forced them into hiding with his baseless “crisis actor” conspiracy theories.
UPDATE, 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Twitter says it suspended the official Infowars account for seven days on Wednesday afternoon, after the site tweeted the same video that got Jones temporarily suspended earlier in the day. Infowars will still be able to access its account, but, like Jones, will not be able to post any tweets or respond to other users.