Twitter says it will not suspend controversial right-wing radio host Alex Jones or his Infowars website, despite the fact that several of his tweets violated its community guidelines.
The decision comes on the heels of a CNN report, which found more than a dozen instances that both accounts violated the social media giant’s rules prohibiting hateful or abusive content.
The tweets in question included baseless accusations and conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary and Parkland shootings, anti-LGBTQ comments, content glorifying child abuse, and targeted harassment of media figures and journalists.
The tweets were later deleted, although Twitter claims it did not remove them itself.
On Thursday evening, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN that, despite the abusive tweets, Jones and Infowars would be allowed to keep their accounts, because a portion of the unearthed tweets had been posted before the company implemented its stricter community standards in December 2017.
The spokesperson admitted that two of the tweets, posted after the guidelines were enacted, had violated the rules and would be flagged moving forward, “to take additional punitive action against Jones’ accounts” if necessary.
“We will continue to review any content that is flagged to us and take action as appropriate,” they said.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey gave a similar answer earlier this week, prior to CNN’s initial report, and amid fallout over Twitter’s continued refusal to crack down on Jones’ accounts, despite the fact that he had been banned from other social media platforms for abusive behavior.
“He hasn’t violated our rules,” Dorsey tweeted Tuesday. “We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”
He continued, “…We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.”
Dorsey added that “accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors,” and claimed it was therefore “critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions.”
Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube all took steps earlier this week to ban Jones and Infowars from their platforms. Facebook, which placed Jones’ personal verified page on a 30-day ban last week, removed four Infowars-related pages on Monday, citing “consistent glorification of violence and dehumanizing language.”
One day earlier, Apple removed all but one of Infowars’ podcasts from its streaming library, telling BuzzFeed News it did not tolerate hate speech. In the wake of that decision, several other media platforms followed suit, with Spotify announcing it had removed all episodes of The Alex Jones Show from its streaming service.
YouTube announced later on Monday that it, too, had removed The Alex Jones Channel. According to CNET, the channel had 2.4 million subscribers and was Infowars’ biggest YouTube account. YouTube said the channel had violated its community guidelines, which prohibit “hate speech and harassment.”
Jones is currently being sued by the families of several Sandy Hook and Parkland shooting victims, as well as a survivor of last year’s car attack on counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The plaintiffs allege Jones — who has pushed a number of conspiracy theories about those tragedies, claiming they were either faked or that the victims were “crisis actors” — spurred his supporters to harass them and send them death threats. Two Sandy Hook parents say the repeated threats were bad enough that they were eventually forced to go into hiding, where they’ve been living for the past six years.