Facebook today followed the lead of Apple, Spotify, and YouTube in removing four Pages belonging to Infowar‘s Alex Jones, claiming those Pages repeatedly violated Community Standards against hateful and dehumanizing speech. Notably, this comes after Facebook‘s head honcho said the site would willingly host controversial content including Holocaust denial.
Within days of Jones’ lawyers desperately trying to convince everyone he doesn’t really mean what he espouses on his popular show, Jones has been summarily axed from several popular online platforms either over the weekend or today (Spotify had previously removed certain episodes of “The Alex Jones Show” last week and removed the whole show today). Each company cited Jones’ predilection for hate speech as the reason for its ban.
The Facebook ban feels like an especially pointed sting considering CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself waffled over the topic of banning Jones less than a month ago.
Zuckerberg said in an interview with Recode‘s Kara Swisher that he wouldn’t remove pages hosting popular conspiracy theories of the type Jones is infamous for: “Look, as abhorrent as some of this content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice… I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”
Notably, when Swisher asked Zuckerberg about Infowars in particular — specifically, she mentioned Jones’ repeated claim that Sandy Hook was a hoax — Zuckerberg actually changed the subject to the Holocaust voluntarily. In response to Swisher saying the Sandy Hook conspiracy is blatantly false, he said:
I agree that it is false. I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook and telling them, “Hey, no, you’re a liar” — that is harassment, and we actually will take that down. But overall, let’s take this [a] whole [lot] closer to home… I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened.
While company spokespeople haven’t said Jones’ Pages have specifically harassed anyone, it has taken down the pages for “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants” and “glorifying violence.”
Jones responded to the bans in a series of texts to the Washington Post, blaming a “yellow journalism campaign,” accusing Apple and Google of colluding with the Chinese government, and topping it off by saying, “You’re on the wrong side of history mainstream media. You sold the country out, and now you’re going to pay for it.”