Deplatforming Infowars Was A Crossing Of The Rubicon

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In a stunning display of Orwellian censorship – Facebook, Apple, Youtube, and Spotify came together in a coordinated strike yesterday to de-platform Alex Jones and his alternative news show, Infowars.

Infowars – and Jones himself – has long been mired in controversy and its credibility questioned.

Along with the Infowars podcasts being removed from both Spotify and Apple, Youtube terminated The Alex Jones Channel – Infowars’ biggest account with 2.4 million subscribers. Facebook removed four Infowars pages from their site as well: the Alex Jones Channel page, the Alex Jones page, the Infowars page, and the Infowars Nightly News page. In a blog post relating to Facebook Community Standards, the choice to remove Infowars-related pages was discussed, claiming:

So what happened with InfoWars? They were up on Friday and now they are down?

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.

All four Pages have been unpublished for repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes. 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.

A poll from @NYTimesOpinion displays the true public perception of the Orwellian censorship.

As of writing, with 7 hours remaining, whether or not Twitter should follow suit and de-platform Infowars sits at at a resounding 78% “No”.

An Apple spokesperson also commented on the removal, stating: “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.” Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars detailed that no specification of Infowars’ supposed offenses of “hate speech” were even given before being de-platformed. 

Isn’t it suspect, though, that four major tech companies joined together and came to the same conclusion within hours of each other to de-platform Jones and his brand?

This morning, British activist Tommy Robinson was suspended from Instagram. Also today, Twitter suspended anti-war voices and the director of the Ron Paul Institute. Last week, Facebook blocked a Republican candidate’s ad from its platform.

Who’s next?

First, they came for Infowars…

Make no mistake about it, not only did they censor and pull Infowars and Jones from major platforms to stifle and lessen his voice – the big tech companies also did it as a message

It has now become the norm to de-platform and censor outlets merely because they are alternative and broadcast alternative views. It is a strong message to whoever becomes the next big, conservative star of the digital age: toe the line or you’ll be next…

Ripped straight from Orwell’s 1984, Alex Jones has literally been “unpersoned” – erased and disappeared from major online services for daring to criticize the U.S. government and holding alternative thoughts and beliefs.

No matter your political orientation or your feelings toward Infowars, this authoritarian display of power should concern everyone – simply because you could be the next to be “unpersoned” for holding the wrong views.

Syme was not only dead, he was abolished, an unperson. Any identifiable reference to him would have been mortally dangerous.
1984, George Orwell, Chapter 6


Editor’s note – If nothing else, the very coordinated and organized deplatforming of Infowars reeks of illegality on the basis of anti-trust.  Infowars could be considered a competitor to these platforms – even if that is a stretch, Infowars’ competitors clearly gain a competitive advantage by their deplatforming, and could be paying or otherwise working with the deplatforming tech firms.  

Legal action related to the deplatforming should be all but expected.  While we are not lawyers here, an anti-trust case is certainly worth consideration.