Alex Jones has spread conspiracies about everything from 9/11 (“an inside job”) to the Gates Foundation (“a eugenics operation”) to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School (“it's actors playing different parts of different people”). He’s done so through his site, InfoWars, as well as his presence on pages and channels on Facebook, YouTube, and other major online platforms, where his followers number in the millions.
In recent weeks, there has been a growing call for tech companies to enforce policies against hate speech, fake news, and bullying, by removing pages overseen by the InfoWars creator. The calls come as Jones attempts to fight three defamation lawsuits brought against him by the relatives of Sandy Hook victims.
What began as a few small actions by social media platforms — the removal of some of Jones’s YouTube videos, a 30-day Facebook suspension — has turned into a larger statement from many companies about what they will and will not tolerate. As of Monday morning, Jones had been removed from Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify, with most citing hate speech violations.
Ahead, a complete breakdown of the bans.
Only one InfoWars podcast, "Real News With David Knight" is still available on Apple's Podcast app. On Sunday night, BuzzFeed was the first to report the tech giant had removed the other five Alex Jones and InfoWars podcasts from both the Podcast app and iTunes.
In response to inquiry, an Apple spokesperson provided the following statement:
"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. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
Apple's decision set a powerful precedent for other tech companies, including Facebook and Spotify who took stronger action against Jones by Monday morning.
Facebook faced repeated criticism for its initial failure to remove Jones and Infowars: Many said the social media platform could not claim to fight fake news while also keeping the conspiracy theorist and his affiliated pages active.
Last week, Facebook took some action, removing four InfoWars videos that violated its hate speech and bullying policies, and suspending Jones's personal profile for 30 days. Today, it took a stronger stance, completely removing four pages belonging to Jones: the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page, and the Infowars Nightly News Page.
In a Newsroom post, Facebook explains that Jones repeatedly broke the platform's Community Standards: Since [last week], more content from the same Pages has been reported to us — upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanising language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies."
The post clarifies that these violations, and not claims related to fake news, are the reason for the pages' removal: "While much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news, which is a serious issue that we are working to address by demoting links marked wrong by fact checkers and suggesting additional content, none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this."
Click on the Alex Jones Channel YouTube today, and you will be met with the following message: "This account has been terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines." YouTube was the last major tech company to remove Jones's channel, which had over 2.4 million subscribers and proudly said it featured "the most banned information in the world."
A YouTube spokesperson issued the following statement about the removal:
"All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube. 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."
In late July, YouTube removed four of Jones's videos for violating policies against child endangerment and hate speech. Doing so resulted in a strike, which suspended live streaming privileges. Nevertheless, Jones attempted to continue live streaming through other channels, ultimately resulting in today's termination.
Jones has 826,000 followers on Twitter, where he continues to spread his theories, report bans, and ask users for help sharing links to Infowars' live streams.