Thursday, August 16, 2018

Alex Jones Off Social Media

Alex Jones has been banned from YouTube, Apple, and Facebook. This happened the week before last, but I've been so busy with convention preparation and convention cleanup that I haven't had time to gloat - until now. Jones is already in legal trouble over the whole Sandy Hook mess and was widely mocked for his Second Civil War declaration back in July. This latest blow to his online media empire has been a long time coming.

YouTube, Apple and Facebook have removed main outlets for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars website, citing repeated violations of policies against hate speech and glorifying violence. Infowars responded by accusing the companies of censorship.

The streaming service Spotify also expanded a ban imposed last week on some of Jones' content, saying Monday that "The Alex Jones Show has lost access to the Spotify platform."

On Sunday, Apple and iTunes deleted five podcasts related to Infowars and Jones. The other bans then piled up in quick succession. "Apple does not tolerate hate speech," the company said in a statement. "We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions."

YouTube and Facebook had previously warned Jones and Infowars that they were accumulating "strikes" by violating the services' community standards. Early Monday, Facebook announced that it had permanently removed four Alex Jones-related pages — the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page.

I'll freely admit that in one sense this is kind of a hard one. I'm strongly opposed to censorship, but there are two points here that need to be acknowledged. First, these are private entities deciding that they no longer want to give Jones a platform, which isn't the same thing as censorship. Censorship is when information is suppressed by the government. Jones has free speech rights, but so do the companies hosting his videos and podcasts.

Second, and more importantly, free speech rights do not include the right to "inciting speech," which as I have been pointing out for a long time here on Augoeides is exactly what Jones has been doing for years. Don't believe me? Well, he literally incited a guy to go shoot up a pizza parlor trying to gain access to its imaginary basement. He literally incited his fans to send hundreds of death threats to the parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook.

Those right there are two clear instances of "inciting speech" that made the mainstream news media. The garbage Jones puts on his show is not only made-up nonsense, it is inciting his followers to go out and hurt people. And that's just wrong. If Jones wanted to be responsible about this, he could start by realizing that his program is so counter-factual that his serious fan base is basically crazy. Not only that, a significant portion of them are totally willing to attack his imaginary enemies.

So we'll see if Jones manages to survive without his social media platform. If nothing else, it should make his screeds less influential and therefore less dangerous to whoever he decides will be his next target.

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