Multiple Mjolnir-sized banhammers are coming down on Alex Jones.
Apple decided to make the first move by removing the conspiracy theorist – or, if you believe him, self-proclaimed truth-teller – from their iTunes library at some point over the weekend. An Apple spokesperson told Buzzfeed the decision was done because Jones practices hate speech.
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. 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.
Facebook and YouTube followed up with their own banishments Monday morning.
Facebook defended its decision, saying he was repeatedly posting content which “breaks our community standards.”
As a result of reports we received, last week, we removed four videos on four Facebook Pages for violating our hate speech and bullying policies. These pages were the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page. In addition, one of the admins of these Pages – Alex Jones – was placed in a 30-day block for his role in posting violating content to these Pages.
Since then, more content from the same Pages has been reported to us — upon review, we have taken it down 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.
A YouTube spokesperson had a similar statement to me regarding Jones.
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.
The aforementioned Jones went on an eight-minute half rant/half infomercial – which, amusingly, can be viewed on Twitter – on his supposed exiled by Big Tech (blaming China) while others took up their own online weapons in support. Gateway Pundit wondered if tech companies were teaming up to ban conservatives – while Paul Joseph Watson tweeted, “The great censorship purge has begun.”
Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollack used the “m-word” when describing Apple’s decision.
This is private censorship by a monopoly and it is every bit as repressive as state censorship. It is hostile to free speech and the values of an open society. (Note how @BuzzFeed can barely contain its joy. Not a hint of criticism in its article.) https://t.co/jAs2j6CKnK
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) August 6, 2018
Okay, time out, cool it with (most of) the histrionics.
Yes, Apple has a wide reach, and their latest iPhone tends to be something the media and customers froth over on bated breath. CNBC did survey 800 Americans last year and found 64% owned an Apple product. Other stats show Apple only enjoys a 43.5% share of smartphone ownership meaning a majority of Americans are not using an iPhone. That’s not exactly monopoly level, despite the lofty $1T value Apple enjoys.
One other thing to consider is the fact there are still ways for people to listen to Jones’ shows via their iPhone or Mac. I can still go to InfoWars.com and there are multiple apps which can be used to listen to his broadcasts (including the official InfoWars app – which, is still available on the app store). He’s just off iTunes, and I’d expect Jones’ cadre of followers to use alternative apps to get their new world order fill each and every day.
Non-Apple users can fill their ears with Jones’ “I’m a human!” proclamations through GooglePlay and Watson’s official page is still up on Facebook, as is Jones’ personal account. There are also smaller social media sites – like MeWe or Gab – which I’m sure Jones is using to get in touch with his fans. Plus, there’s nothing stopping said fans of putting up fan pages or links on their own social media accounts.
I don’t agree with Apple or YouTube’s decisions, for the record, even though I find Jones to be a bloviating nutball and a grifter taking advantage of others. Facebook’s ban of Jones seems even more suspect due to lobbying by House Democrats last month over the content Jones puts out. There’s, unfortunately, no way to file a Freedom of Information Act request in hopes of getting any correspondence from Congressional Democrats and Facebook or Apple because Congress has (unsurprisingly) exempted itself from FOIA regulations.
Transparency, thy name is not government!
My honest guess is the companies were waiting standing outside the proverbial ban pool telling the other, “You do it,” “No..YOU do it!” before Apple took the leap into the water to gauge the temperature. The rest decided to jump right in once it was discovered the water was most pleasant and the chop minimal. For now.
Let’s remember something. These are private companies who can do whatever they want. They’ll probably pay for it in the form of lost customers if people decide to abandon their platforms or video hosting services for other entities. Advancing technology is a wonderful thing – even for hucksters. It’s not an infringement of free speech because the private companies aren’t the government unless someone can prove the government was behind Jones’ expulsion (and, no, comments from Democrats in a hearing asking why Jones hadn’t been banned isn’t necessarily proof – not yet anyway). The lawsuit in Connecticut over Jones’ reprehensible Sandy Hook comments will end up having much more effect on the charlatan’s career than anything Big Tech can do. I’m actually hoping Jones wins that case because even quacks are covered by the First Amendment.
A word of caution to InfoWarsamaniacs and conservatives, in general, is to avoid mob-like tactics. It’s perfectly fine to be angry at Twitter over Candace Owens’ brief suspension, along with ire towards Facebook et al. for banning Jones’ official accounts. But any online mob thrash to find some leftist to kick off social media will only encourage their allies to target another one of you. It’s the nature of online witch hunts, where everyone has to put on a jersey of a certain color and stripe to make sure people know where they stand on the issues. There’s no need to form your own version of the online Polizie to make sure social media is safe from the opposite side’s opinion.
Screw the ‘new rules.’ Go do your own thing. You don’t have to conform to the crowd and there are plenty of other options out there to discuss and debate issues – or post cat gifs.
The ironic part is Jones’ ban from Facebook, YouTube, and iTunes will only get him more followers. People will be curious as to why his antics got him the boot and will go check him out. The mountebank will get more money and more time to spread his love of Vladimir Putin and all-natural super, duper virality drugs elsewhere. It is the nature of the free market, after all. If one market dries up, another pops up to take its place.