POLITICS
08/06/2018 07:20 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2018

After Years Of Alex Jones' Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories, Why Now?

Many wonder what took tech companies such as Apple, Facebook and YouTube so long to act against Jones and Infowars.

Backlash against Alex Jones grew to a new level on Monday as YouTube announced that it was terminating the far-right conspiracy theorist’s channels in the wake of similar suspensions and removals by Facebook, Apple and Spotify.

The moves targeting Jones follow years of complaints and concerns about the false information spewed by him and his InfoWars website and media platform, as well as a recent defamation lawsuit against him over his conduct. Many were left wondering why, given how widely discredited Jones and his crew have been, the companies finally acted.

Matt Rivitz, who helps run the Twitter account Sleeping Giants, which pressures companies to distance themselves from far-right groups, expressed the question The New York Times on Monday.

“When they say, ‘We’ve determined he violated the terms,’ the timing is very puzzling because he’s been saying this stuff for years and they haven’t done anything,” Rivitz said.

Others chimed in on Twitter with similar comments. 

Facebook and Youtube, in statements released to the media on Monday, said that the decision to revoke his access follows Jones violating prior suspensions and rules in recent weeks.

Facebook, which removed four pages controlled by him on Monday, handed Jones a 30-day ban last month for allegedly violating its policies on bullying and hate speech. At the time of that ban, the company warned that Jones’ pages risked being banned because of repeat violations, CNBC reported.

Spotify, which removed several of Jones’ radio episodes last week, also said the decision to strip his content followed Jones violating its policy that bans hate speech.

Apple followed Spotify’s lead on Sunday, removing Jones’ podcasts and saying that the company “does not tolerate hate speech.” Despite removing the content from iTunes and the Podcast app, Apple has allowed the Infowars downloadable app to remain in its App Store

Jones was hit with a defamation lawsuit in April over his claim that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut ― where a shooter killed 20 small children and six adults ― was faked.

Late last month, the parents of Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old killed in that attack, penned an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It detailed the years of fear they have experienced since fringe groups began “hunting” them on social media. Noah’s parent ― Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who filed the lawsuit against Jones in April ― said they’ve had to move “numerous times” after onslaughts of harassment and death threats.

“Our families are in danger as a direct result of the hundreds of thousands of people who see and believe the lies and hate speech, which you have decided should be protected,” their letter read. “What makes the entire situation all the more horrific is that we have had to wage an almost inconceivable battle with Facebook to provide us with the most basic of protections to remove the most offensive and incendiary content.”

Pozner and De La Rosa called on Facebook to treat victims of mass shootings as a protected group in a specific company policy and provide access to victims to Facebook staff who will remove harassment against them when reported immediately. 

YouTube temporarily suspended Jones’ account in February after his attacks against students pushing for tougher gun laws after a mass shooting at their high school in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead. Jones specifically targeted student survivor David Hogg. Jones also uploaded a video entitled, “David Hogg Can’t Remember His Lines In TV Interview,” implying the teenager was a crisis actor. 

Jones’ video was removed by YouTube for violating the site’s bully and harassment policy. The website instituted a temporary ban on the channel after Jones uploaded a video with similar accusations against Hogg and other Parkland students. 

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