Some of the world’s largest social media and tech companies kicked Alex Jones and his conspiracy-theory driven show, InfoWars, off their platforms on Monday after months of hand-wringing about how to handle a personality who claimed he was delivering news but didn’t deal in facts.
Apple moved first, striking the entire library for five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcasts apps. Among the podcasts, which were removed from Apple’s iTunes directory, are the show War Room and the popular Alex Jones Show podcast, which is hosted daily by the prominent conspiracy theorist.
After that, platforms that have come under far more scrutiny for hosting Jones and his content — Facebook and YouTube — quickly followed suit after long and tortured deliberations. Spotify also did the same.
In all, the actions will currently seriously limit Jones’s ability to reach his massive audience. Twitter and Periscope remain one of the sole major platforms to still host Jones.
YouTube’s enforcement action will have the greatest impact on Jones. His channel had nearly 2.5 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views over its lifetime. It killed most if not all of the videos hosted on Jones’s website.
YouTube told BuzzFeed News that “when users violate” the platform’s terms and policies “repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment of our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.”
Apple’s decision to remove all episodes of Jones’ popular show — rather than just specific offending episodes — was, at the beginning of the day, one of the largest enforcement actions intended to curb conspiratorial news content by a technology company to date.
Apple did not host Jones’ shows, but it offered an index that allowed anyone with an iPhone to find and subscribe to them. As of 2018, Apple’s Podcasts platform amassed 50 billion all-time downloads and streams.
“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,” Apple said in a statement Sunday evening to BuzzFeed News. “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.”
The InfoWars app is still available to download from Apple’s store.
Facebook confirmed on Monday morning that it had removed four pages promoting Jones and his shows: the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Nightly News Page, and the Infowars Page.
In a lengthy press release, a Facebook spokesperson said the pages were taken 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.”
Facebook last week removed four of Jones’ videos for violating hate speech and bullying rules and suspended Jones himself from being a page admin for 30 days. This further action was taken after more videos were reported by users.
A Spotify spokesperson confirmed on Monday morning that the company has removed all episodes of The Alex Jones Show, after it removed some selected episodes last week. Spotify’s hate content policy prohibits anything that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics.” The policy warns that repeat offenders will be removed from the platform.
YouTube acted on Monday afternoon. Jones had been warned by the company that his live-streaming privileges were suspended for 90 days, however Jones attempted to livestream on other channels in clear violation of YouTube’s rules.