Top platforms’ ouster of Infowars proof of evil conspiracy, as always, in Alex Jonesville
After being banned on YouTube, Facebook, Apple’s iTunes, Pinterest and Spotify, conspiracy-meister Jones comes up with a raft of new theories explaining it all as proof of a free-speech crackdown.
Since virtually every news event in the conspiracy-fueled universe of Infowars is viewed through the paranoid prism of Alex Jones’ worldview, of course the news that his fearmongering operations had finally been removed from most major social media platforms was occasion for Jones to paint it all as the key moment in the most nefarious and far-reaching of all conspiracies yet.
It has been, all around, a rough week for Jones, the nation’s leading conspiracy salesman. It started off when Spotify — apparently reacting to reportage that it had become a major platform for Infowars’ podcasts, which angered other Spotify users and spurred talk of a boycott — announced it was removing Jones and his operation from its offerings.
In short order, Apple also announced that it was removing Jones’ material from its iTunes podcasts. That started an avalanche.
Facebook, which hosted four pages of Jones’ material, announced that it was removing them and banning Jones. Even more significantly, YouTube — which had become the most potent means for Infowars to generate both conspiracy theories and income from them — announced it had completely deleted Jones’ channel from its platform.
YouTube was tight-lipped about the move, explaining only that Jones’ account “has been terminated for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.” It added in 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.” Infowars’ YouTube videos over the years have accumulated hundreds of millions of views.
Facebook similarly published a page explaining that Jones’ content was 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.” And on Tuesday, to cap off the bad news, email marketing service MailChimp announced that it had severed its business relationship with Jones’ operation.
By midweek, Jones’ only remaining presence on a major social media platform was on Twitter. The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, explained via tweet: “We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”
Unsurprisingly, the sequence of events inspired a fresh raft of conspiracy theories from Jones that explained his misfortune as the first key step in perhaps the most nefarious “globalist” conspiracy of all — to strip away free speech on the internet and simultaneously attack Donald Trump, whose presidency Jones feverishly supports.
“We’ve been told about this, we’ve been warned about this,” Jones told his audience on Monday. “We have sources who have told us the same thing — that they’re preparing to completely take you off the monopoly internet, 96 percent of it is Apple, Google, Facebook Twitter and their subsidiaries — and that you are going to be taken off the air. There’s going to be a huge fight, a debate about it, people are going to agree that you’ve been wronged, and then there’s going to be a terror attack, a group of terror attacks, on the media, on social media, using firearms, they’re going to stage a right-wing uprising, which they’re going to completely stage.”
The attacks, he says, will be blamed on Trump, who in recent weeks has been decrying the press as “the enemy of the people.” Jones identified in succeeding rants the major players in this nefarious scheme of “Nazi-style censorship”: the government of China, Democrats hoping to gain an advantage in the coming midterms, George Soros and, of course, “the Deep State.”
“Understand this: The censorship of Infowars just vindicates everything we’ve been saying,” he tweeted. “Now, who will stand against tyranny and who will stand for free speech? We’re all Alex Jones now.”
Infowars has been under increasing pressure after facing a string of lawsuits over the often risibly false information and vicious smears that run as regular features at Infowars. For years Jones had avoided libel suits, but the first crack in its armor appeared when Infowars was sued by the owners of Chobani yogurt for smearing their Idaho factory operations by falsely claiming it was associated with crime and disease caused by refugees it hired there. Infowars and Chobani settled the suit.
Jones’ personal life has also played a role in the pressures Infowars face. His 2016 child custody court proceedings against his ex-wife, Kelly, featured an explanation from Jones’ own attorney that the gravel-voiced talk show host is actually an actor: “He’s playing a character,” he told the judge. “He is a performance artist.” Jones lost the case and primary custody of his two children.
More recently, Jones has been facing a significant financial hammer in the form of a lawsuit filed by the parents of children slain in the 2010 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut. For several years, Jones continually claimed on air that the massacre was a “false flag” operation that was entirely staged, and the deaths of the children faked; the children shown on video, he claimed, were actually hired actors, as were their parents.
The claims and theories resulted in death threats and harassment against those parents, three of whom in 2017 filed separate lawsuits against Jones and Infowars. The trial in the first of those lawsuits is currently underway, and so far has featured a number of embarrassing revelations about Jones’ factually spurious operations. Infowars is simultaneously being sued for $1 million by a man incorrectly identified by Jones as the shooter in the recent Parkland, Florida, mass shooting.
“We knew it was coming,” Jones said in a video statement. “The whole thing was formulaic: Demonize Infowars, lie about us, build a strawman, then sue us to add credibility to that, then have a few strikes on YouTube and Facebook with nebulous terms like ‘bullying children’ and ‘Islamophobia.’ And then voila, two weeks later, ban Infowars completely off dozens of major platforms, where we were all in the top five or top 10 news feeds.”
The agenda, he warned, was being pushed by people who believe, among other things, that “white people should be extincted.”