Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify remove 'Alex Jones Show,' Infowars over hate speech
Mike Snider, USA TODAYPublished 9:09 a.m. ET Aug. 6, 2018 | Updated 1:09 p.m. ET Aug. 6, 2018
And gave him a ‘strike.’ Time
(Photo: Tamir Kalifa, AP)
Talk about a rough Monday morning. Pundit Alex Jones found his radio and video show, and other content produced by the far-right site Infowars, expunged from Apple, Facebook, Spotify and YouTube.
The cumulative actions represent the largest efforts yet against Jones, a conspiracy theorist who most famously promoted the idea that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting never happenedand was staged. Several families affected by the shooting, and an FBI agent who responded to the attack, have sued Jones for defamation. He is seeking to have the cases dismissed.
Facebook said on Monday that four pages belonging to Jones were removed for violating the social network's policy against hate speech. Also on Monday, the entirety of hundreds of episodes of "The Alex Jones Show" had been removed from music streaming service Spotify.
Those takedowns came just hours after Apple late Sunday removed all episodes of the show hosted by Jones and four other Infowars-related podcasts from Apple's iTunes and Podcast apps.
And later Monday, YouTube removed Jones and Infowars' channels from the video sharing service, with some pages labeled with the declaration the account was terminated for violations of community guidelines.
Jones has lately been on the radar of social media and streaming services. Spotify removed several episodes of 'The Alex Jones Show' last week, citing violations of its policy against hateful speech. Online sentiment had been building against Spotify for days after subscribers found the episodes' listing on the service.
Earlier this month, Facebook faced criticism for Infowars' remaining on the social network, despite its crackdown on the spread of fabricated news. Prior to its action Monday, YouTube removed four of Jones' videos from his channel two weeks ago and suspended him from broadcasting live for 90 days saying the channel violated the company's graphic content policy.
Apple's move Sunday to remove five of six Infowars-related podcasts including "The Alex Jones Show" and "War Room" from its directories -- first reported by Buzzfeed News -- seemed to initiate a domino effect. "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," the company said in a statement.
"Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming," Apple's statement said. "We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
Links to "RealNews with David Knight" by Infowars remains on Apple's podcast apps.
Similarly, Facebook said it removed four of Jones' page for repeatedly posting content that included "hate speech that attacks or dehumanizes others," the network said in a post on its website.
After removing four videos, one each on four of Jones' pages -- the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page -- violating "our hate speech and bullying policies, Facebook continued to get reports from users," it says.
Those pages were ultimately taken down for "glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies," Facebook says. Jones was placed on a 30-day block "for his role in posting violating content to these pages," the company said.
Facebook said none of its actions was due to false news found on Infowars-related sites.
When asked why YouTube took action because Jones and Infowars, the site sent this statement to USA TODAY: "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."
The cumulative actions by the tech companies were hailed by Infowars' detractors with one person applauding "a little courage shown by our tech titans. ... Its good to see companies step up when people so flagrantly propagate falsehoods."
Matt McMurray@Matt_McMurray_ Finally, a little courage shown by our tech titans. There is still a such thing as objective truth and it’s good to see companies step up when people so flagrantly propagate falsehoods. https://apple.news/ApUiBpHR1R-WVnaaiPy4jZQ …
8:52 AM - Aug 6, 2018 The move comes after platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify and is the largest crackdown on conspiratorial news content by a technology company to date.
Jones, during his show on Infowars.com, said he would have to remove the site's links to social media because Infowars' content there "is all gone. They blew it all away in the middle of the night."
Also on the site, a preview of the Monday "Alex Jones Show' topics said: "Facebook permanently banned Infowars while Apple removed entire Infowars libraries from iTunes under the guise of 'hate speech'," he said. "The war on your mind is in full swing as globalists remove outlets of liberty and truth, starting with the tip of the spear: Alex Jones."
Jones posted a separate note on Twitter asking, "What conservative news outlet will be next?"
Alex Jones ✔@RealAlexJones We've been banned completely on Facebook, Apple, & Spotify.
What conservative news outlet will be next?
The one platform that they CAN'T ban and will ALWAYS have our live streams is http://infowars.com/show
Spread the links to help #Infowars fight #Censorship
10:55 AM - Aug 6, 2018
Also commenting on the situation was Wikileaks, which posted a pair of tweets, at first critiquing Facebook's action as a power play, tweeting that “the ability of Facebook to censor rival publishers is a global anti-trust problem, which along with San Francisco cultural imperialism reduces political diversity.”
Subsequently, after YouTube's action, Wikileaks blasted all four companies saying, "The empire strikes back: Apple, Spotify, Facebook and Google/Youtube all purge Infowars/Alex Jones."
The international, non-profit organization questioned whether the takedowns were the right move. "Yes, Infowars has frequent nonsense, but also a state power critique. Which publisher in the world with millions of subscribers is next to be wiped out for cultural transgression?"
WikiLeaks ✔@wikileaks The empire strikes back: Apple, Spotify, Facebook and Google/Youtube all purge Infowars/Alex Jones. Yes, Infowars has frequent nonsense, but also a state power critique. Which publisher in the world with millions of subscribers is next to be wiped out for cultural transgression?
Paul Joseph Watson ✔@PrisonPlanet The Alex Jones Channel has been permanently DELETED by YouTube.
This is a coordinated PURGE.
This is political censorship.
12:10 PM - Aug 6, 2018
WikiLeaks ✔@wikileaks Infowars says it has been banned by Facebook for unspecified 'hate speech'. Regardless of the facts in this case, the ability of Facebook to censor rivial publishers is a global anti-trust problem, which along with San Francisco cultural imperialism, reduces political diversity.
Paul Joseph Watson ✔@PrisonPlanet Facebook has permanently BANNED Infowars.
For unspecified "hate speech". They didn't even tell us what the offending posts were.
This sets a chilling precedent for free speech.
To all other conservative news outlets - you are next.
The great censorship purge has truly begun.
7:14 AM - Aug 6, 2018
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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