Twitter permanently bans Alex Jones and Infowars
Alex Jones’ expulsion from the biggest social networks of the English-speaking internet appears complete.
Twitter said in a series of tweets Thursday that it was banning the primary accounts of the the far-right commentator and his media outlet Infowars, which are known for spreading virulent conspiracy theories. The ban includes both Twitter itself and Periscope, the live video app owned by the company.
Twitter said the terminated accounts violated its abusive-behavior policy.
“Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope,” the Twitter Safety account said in a tweet. “We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.”
While other Alex Jones and Infowars-affiliated accounts like @newswars still appear to be live on Twitter, the company says it will consider banning them if they’re used to circumvent the Infowars ban.
The suspensions underscore a wider reckoning for tech giants as they grapple with the implications of unbridled free speech on their platforms. Abuse, scandals linked to overreaching data collection and election tampering amplified by social networks have some of the largest companies on the defensive as lawmakers and the public question their competence in handling the responsibilities of their power.
Twitter’s latest move comes after Facebook and Google’s YouTube kicked Jones’ primary accounts off their platforms last month, amid a wave of suspensions by Apple’s iTunes, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vimeo and Spotify. Jones and Infowars still operate their own website with a store that provides the outlet with much of its revenue, and its app is still available in Apple’s App Store.
At the time, Twitter suspended Jones for a week by putting his account in a read-only mode, meaning he could see the tweets of others, but not tweet, retweet or like posts. Dorsey appeared on conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s radio show last month to argue that InfoWars hadn’t violated Twitter’s rules. “We’ll enforce if he does,” Dorsey said at the time. “And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”
A representative for Jones and Infowars didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
On Infowars.com, Jones said “I was taken down not because we lie but because we tell the truth,” in a response to the Twitter ban.
A Twitter representative said it is assessing accounts linked to Infowars that are still active “on a case-by-case basis” and that it will be on guard in case those channels “are utilized as a way to get around the ban.” The company said “if we find violations we’ll take action” against accounts with histories related to Jones.
Twitter didn’t specify what triggered the permanent suspensions Thursday, other than to say that videos containing rule-violating content were posted to the accounts.
According to statements from Twitter given to The Daily Beast and Buzzfeed, an Infowars video posted on Twitter of Jones insulting CNN reporter Oliver Darcy on Wednesday was the final violation of the company’s terms.that helped set off the recent widespread bans.
In his response video on Infowars.com, Jones said he “confronted that monster” Darcy and “because of that they took us down.” He also referred to a video in which he accused a group of women of being racist for their comments about white people, and he indicated that his confrontation with Sen. Marco Rubio contributed to the ban.
This comes a day after Congressional lawmakers grilled Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for hours, with much of the afternoon’s questioning focused on whether Twitter has a liberal bias that suppresses conservative voices. Jones sat in on one of the hearings where Dorsey testified, and Jones, followed by his camera crew, for much of the day.
Tech companies have long been accused of letting liberal leanings filter into their products, resulting in alleged censorship and suppression. It’s been a favorite charge leveled against tech by political figures, including Jones and President Donald Trump. Trump spent much of last week accusing Google, Facebook and Twitter of political bias. He tweeted that Google’s search results are “RIGGED,” saying the company is “suppressing voices of Conservatives.”
“I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people,” he told reporters later that day. “Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory, and they have to be careful.”
On Wednesday, Dorsey rejected accusations of bias.
“We don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions. Period,” he said. “Impartiality is our guiding principle.”