Life comes at you fast.
Over the course of just 24 hours, tech companies have pulled InfoWars head honcho Alex Jones’ biggest digital soapboxes out from under him. This near-simultaneous action occurred quickly and in tandem — and only after weeks of public pressure over platform inaction.
Until today, Facebook and YouTube in particular have maintained that an account ban for Jones was not the best way to combat his spreading of hate speech and conspiracy theories on their platforms. And generally, in the face of complaints about objectionable content, Facebook and YouTube both opt to de-rank, de-monetize, or “suspend,” rather than outright ban.
But now their tune has changed.
Facebook and YouTube were Jones’ big guns, and Monday was D-Day, with both networks removing Jones’ pages within hours of each other. Less than 24 hours earlier, Apple took down his podcasts. Spotify did the same on Thursday, and digital radio service Stitcher stopped broadcasting Jones on Friday.
The dominoes have kept falling in Facebook’s and YouTube’s wake. When you think InfoWars, you might not think Pinterest. But yep, Jones’ show had a presence there — which Pinterest promptly removed after Mashable asked them about the InfoWars account on the DIY dreamland. The podcast hosting provider Spreaker has also booted Jones.
With all of these platforms removing Jones, it’s the conspiracy theorist’s true day of reckoning. So after weeks of tech industry foot-dragging, how did this all happen so fast?
Tech companies have a history of taking action on controversial stances in quick succession — often, once public outcry reaches a critical mass, and only after someone else does it first. In other words, for a tech company to make a policy change, there needs to be a combination of public pressure and peer pressure.
An example of this is the transition from a gun emoji to a water pistol emoji. Apple first replaced the gun on its emoji keyboard with a water pistol in 2016. It was the lone company to do so until spring 2018, when outrage over gun violence exploded, especially in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.
First, Samsung switched from guns to water pistols in February 2018. Then, in early April, Twitter enacted the change. Two weeks late, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all announced over the course of three days that they were making the transition, too.
Until today, Jones and his content were extraordinarily resilient. Virtually no one was willing to ban the prominent conspiracy theorist, especially since the social media companies were facing constant accusations that they were biased against conservative views.
But now the balance has tipped, perhaps because defamation court case against Jones, accusing him of calling the Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax, is finally going ahead.
There are still plenty of platforms hosting Jones — most notably, Twitter. And the InfoWars app is still available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
But Jones is already declaring himself “banned from the internet” (of course, he is making this declaration on the internet). And he is attempting to rally his supporters around the cause of freedom of speech, while his political sympathizers make him a martyr for their cause — Ted Cruz even totally un-ironically invoked a holocaust parable about discriminatory violence, on behalf of Jones, who has railed against what he calls “the Jewish mafia” led, of course, by George Soros.
Tech companies are finally taking action against one of the most notable hate-mongers in America, and that deserves at least a nod of approval. What took so long for it to happen, apparently, was the need for consensus — and the defensive strength of a united front.
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Read more: http://mashable.com/