Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones booted from YouTube, other sites

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from (Reuters pic)

NEW YORK: Facebook Inc. and YouTube pulled Alex Jones from their services on Monday after concluding the conspiracy theorist’s posts violated their policies. The moves follow similar action by Apple Inc. and Spotify Technology SA.Facebook said it removed four pages belonging to Jones for repeatedly posting content in recent days that break community standards on hate speech, bullying and glorifying violence.

“All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube,” a spokesperson for Google’s video site wrote in an email. “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.”

Technology companies have been under pressure to remove Jones for some time. On his show, InfoWars, he peddles conspiracy theories, ranging from claiming the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012 was staged by the government to stating the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack was an “inside job.”

“Facebook caved here because Apple decided to enforce their own Terms,” activist group Sleeping Giants tweeted on Monday. “Moving forward, we all need more clarity on what their rules are and how they intend to enforce them. This should have been done long ago, not because another company provided them cover.”

Twitter had not removed Jones or InfoWars from its service, as of Monday afternoon New York time. Bloomberg LP produces TicToc, a global breaking news network for the Twitter service.

“We’ve been banned completely on Facebook, Apple and Spotify,” Jones tweeted on Monday. “What conservative news outlet will be next?” He directed followers to the InfoWars website, where a story referred to the bans as a “coordinated communist-style crackdown.” A Twitter spokesman confirmed that InfoWars and associated accounts currently comply with Twitter’s rules. Information posted by InfoWars is often not published on Twitter and replies to InfoWar tweets typically include people challenging the assertions, the spokesperson also noted. The social-media company may take action on the accounts if it finds content that violates its policies, according to the spokesperson.

Jones is embroiled in several lawsuits with families of those killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting. In a defamation suit filed in Connecticut Superior Court in late May, the families said Jones promotes conspiracies to drive traffic to his website and subsequently sell products to his followers.

“They deliberately stoke social anxiety and political discord in their listeners, because distrust in government and cultural tribalism motivate those listeners to buy their products,” the families said in the complaint. “Jones exploits his audience by selling them products in line with the paranoid worldview he promotes.”

Jones did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. He previously claimed he was being defamed by the Sandy Hook parents.

“News outlets and social media platforms are finally waking up to the critical difference between those who foster a marketplace of freely exchanged ideas and those that peddle false facts to make money off the suffering of others,” said Josh Koskoff, an attorney representing several Sandy Hook families. “Unfortunately, for many of the Sandy Hook families, the damage has already been done.”