YouTube has a far-right problem. The online video platform’s reluctance to actually deal with the wackos, nihilists, and hatemongers in its midst has been widely noted and critiqued, and today YouTube responded with a move that, frankly, has been a long time coming: It finally deleted The Alex Jones Channel. The reason? According to The Guardian, the final straw was Jones continuing to appear on livestreams hosted by other channels on the site, despite being subject to a 90 day ban. YouTube says in a statement:
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.
As dedicated conspiracy-watchers and assorted schadenfreudians already know, YouTube has been half-assedly chipping away at Jones’ presence on the platform over the past few months, as the rhetoric surrounding Jones’ sociopathic insistence that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre never happened, and grieving parents are paid “crisis actors”—a deeply disturbing lie he’s spread about multiple mass shootings, including the Parkland shooting in February and the Las Vegas concert massacre last October—has heated up. (Jones is currently being sued by Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose 6-year-old son was murdered in the attack; they have been forced to move seven times and have not been able to visit their son’s grave due to harassment from Jones’ followers.)
Calls for media platforms to stop tolerating this nonsense have been growing for months, but it’s only in the past week or so that anyone—meaning not only YouTube, but the various other social media and/or streaming platforms who continue to host Jones’ bullshit, have done anything about it. Those actions gained major momentum over the past 24 hours: First, last night Apple removed all episodes of Jones’ personal podcast and all but one of the Infowars podcasts from its podcast directory (Real News With David Knight still stands), making it significantly more difficult to find and listen to those shows on iPhones and other Apple products. In a statement to Buzzfeed News, a spokesperson says, “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.”
A few hours later, at 3 a.m. PT, Facebook confirmed that it had removed four Jones-associated pages—the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page—for “repeated violations of community standards” surrounding “glorifying violence” and “dehumanizing language.” (Interestingly, “false flag” conspiracies and other lies don’t seem to have factored into Facebook’s decision specifically.)
Then came Spotify, which rectified its own half-assed removal of a handful of episodes of The Alex Jones Show last week by pulling the podcast’s entire archive. Spotify is still hosting three other Infowars podcasts, however, and Twitter? Well, Twitter hasn’t done shit. Jones is still verified on the platform and currently screaming about how Apple is controlled by Chinese communists (we think, it’s hard to follow), and the InfoWars page is still up and claiming in its bio that it’s “circumventing the dying dinosaur media systems of information suppression.”
Jones’ site Infowars has also been one strike away from being banned from YouTube since at least February. That channel still stands, and last month uploaded a totally sane video titled (caps original) “INFO WARS NEWS HAD BEEN FULLY DEMONETIZED WITH NO STRIKES AGAINST IT! NO INCOME!! YOUTUBE IS EVIL!!” That last bit is a reference to InfoWars removing ads from its channels, as YouTube has used the presence of ads on videos as a pretense for regulating content.
We’re going to assume that everyone here understands that the First Amendment protects citizens from government censorship, and that YouTube, Apple, et al are private companies that can ban whoever they feel like—particularly if said “whoever” is a bad-faith “performance artist” spreading dangerous lies to vulnerable idiots in order to sell them snake-oil brain pills, and if, say, continuing to tacitly support said bullshit would be a PR disaster in the wake of revelations that your company was recently used to mine the accounts of 50 million people for data without their knowledge. (Right, Zuck?) Those who wish to willfully misunderstand this point are welcome to go do so on Gab.