Facebook, Apple and YouTube remove pages and podcasts from Alex Jones for hate speech, policy violations
Apple confirmed on Monday that it had removed five out of six podcasts, which includes Jones’ infamous “The Alex Jones Show” as well as a number of other InfoWars audio streams. The news was originally reported by BuzzFeed News.
Facebook and Google made similar decisions later on Monday. Facebook removed four pages controlled by him, while Google removed the official “Alex Jones Channel” on its platform. The YouTube channel for InfoWars, the media company owned by Alex Jones, still remains live. Pinterest also removed the InfoWars board.
Jones, a controversial conspiracy theorist who has claimed that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, has been hit with other content bans from the likes of Spotify.
Apple’s move seems slightly more dramatic — the company has taken down entire libraries of InfoWars podcasts, rather than a select few episodes.
“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.”
Later on Monday morning, Facebook announced it was removing four of Jones’ pages for persistently uploading content in breach of the social network’s content guidelines.
The company said it made the decision after receiving additional complaints about inappropriate content on Jones’ pages. The pages were removed “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.” The decision was made independently of any other companies removing content from their sites, a Facebook spokesperson said.
In July, Facebook removed four of Jones’ videos and hit his own personal profile with a 30-day ban over what the firm deemed as a violation of its policies on bullying and hate speech. The company said at the time the official InfoWars page, among others where Jones was an administrator, were getting close to the threshold of being banned from the site due to repeated violations.
The company explained on Monday that when it deletes content, the removal counts as a strike — essentially a warning — against the person that uploaded it. In the case of pages, Facebook said it holds both a page and an administrator who posts content in violation of its rules accountable.
But it also said that the reason for removing Jones’ pages was in no way related to concerns over fake news.
“All four pages have been unpublished for repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes,” the company said in a blog post.
“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.”
Facebook in particular has faced calls to remove Jones from the platform altogether. Last month, the company was asked by a CNN journalist why it had not banned InfoWars completely, given its aim to crack down on fake news. Facebook — along with CEO Mark Zuckerberg — defended the decision not to remove InfoWars.
Tech giants have faced calls from both sides of the political spectrum to be more transparent about the way they approach content flagging and banning. On the left, there are critics who say these firms are not doing enough to take down harmful and offensive content, while on the right there are some who think internet firms are routinely censoring conservative posts.