In the last 24 hours some of the biggest tech and social media platforms have moved against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars brand.
YouTube terminated Alex Jones’ channel only hours after Facebook removed most of the pages run him and his website InfoWars. Then Apple announced it had removed all but one of his podcasts for “The Alex Jones Show.”
Apple’s move was unusually strong as they took down nearly the entire library of his podcasts instead of individual shows that violated its standards.
Apple released the following statement on Monday:
“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,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
“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.”
YouTube had previously issued what it calls “strikes” against Jones’ channel for violating their so-called “hate speech” policies. His attempts to get around the penalties by posting from other accounts is what led to his termination. The company issued a statement to CNBC:
“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.”
Facebook claims their reason for removing pages owned by Jones is for repeatedly posting content they deem to be “hate speech” which “attacks or dehumanizes” others.
One reason this seemingly coordinated action against Jones and InfoWars by Big Tech is significant is because most companies have opted to stay on the side of free speech, but draw the line at content that directly calls for violence or could lead to violence (think ISIS propaganda, etc).
Regardless of what you think about Alex Jones, his politics or his InfoWars website, this kind of action by our tech overlords should be cause for concern.
Consider this from BuzzFeed:
In all, the actions will currently seriously limit Jones’s ability to reach his massive audience. Twitter and Periscope remain one of the sole major platforms to still host Jones.
YouTube’s enforcement action will have the greatest impact on Jones. His channel had nearly 2.5 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views over its lifetime. It killed most if not all of the videos hosted on Jones’s website.
So basically, the most powerful companies in the world decided on their own that Alex Jones should have his business decimated because they consider his content unacceptable.
Let me be clear, I don’t have an opinion about Alex Jones one way or another. I’ve never watched his videos and what I know of him is what I’ve read in the media.
My concern is how companies like Facebook and Google are starting to wield their power. How far does this go? What exactly is “hate speech?” Who decides what qualifies as hate speech?
This is a potential slippery slope that could see all kinds of viewpoints deleted from the Internet because an unnamed and unelected group of Silicon Valley people decide they’re bad.
At the very least there needs to be a lot more transparency from these companies on how they decide what content is a violation and why.
According to Mashable, Pinterest has now taken down the Alex Jones InfoWars page.
What do you think about this? Putting aside Alex Jones does this kind of punitive action by Big Tech concern you? Tell us in the comments.