Alex Jones' professional presence on several major internet platforms has come to an end.
Jones is a noted conspiracy theorist and the founder of the InfoWars website and podcast. In a Monday tweet, he confirmed that Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple had completely unpublished and/or removed his professional pages and podcasts. All four companies stated that Jones' inflammatory statements about Muslims, immigrants, members of the LGBT community, and other groups violated their terms of service.
"We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe," Facebook said in a statement. "It's why we have Community Standards and remove anything that violates them, including hate speech that attacks or dehumanizes others. Earlier today, we removed four Pages belonging to Alex Jones for repeatedly posting content over the past several days that breaks those Community Standards." The company also called Jones a "repeat offender."
YouTube listed some similar reasons for its ban in an email to NBC News. Spotify and Apple removed the InfoWars podcast from their streaming services, though a number of InfoWars apps are still available for download on the Apple store.
Jones' banishment comes as social media giants attempt to balance free speech, onlight civility, and the fight against "fake news." Just last month, conservatives accused Twitter of disproportionately "shadow-banning" them when several Republican leaders, including Reps. Mark Meadows (R–N.C.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), found that their Twitter accounts did not appear on the drop-down menu in the search bar. (The shadowbans also extended further right, to people like white nationalist Richard Spencer and right-wing troll Mike Cernovich, though initially at least they did not affect Jones.) Facebook, meanwhile, was thrown into controversy after founder Mark Zuckerberg told an interviewer that Holocaust deniers should be able to post content on Facebook provided they weren't attempting to "organize harm" or attack someone else.
Though Zuckerberg's sister responded to that controversy by calling on the government to make certain kinds of speech illegal, she also suggested that social media platforms should not need to "decide who has the right to speech" and "police content in a way that is different from what our legal system dictates."
During the uproar over Mark Zuckerberg's comments, Reason's Robby Soave argued:
Policing hate on a very large scale is quite difficult given the frequently subjective nature of offense; we risk de-platforming legitimate viewpoints that are unpopular but deserve to be heard; and ultimately, silencing hate is not the same thing as squelching it.
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