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Apple, Facebook and Spotify Remove Content From Alex Jones and Infowars

Category: Science & Tech,Technology

Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify removed from their services large portions of content posted by the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars site, a major step by big technology firms to curb one of the most prominent online voices trafficking in misinformation.

Apple on Sunday removed five of the six Infowars podcasts on its popular Podcasts app. Commenting on the move, a spokeswoman said, “Apple does not tolerate hate speech.”

Facebook, YouTube and Spotify, which for weeks had faced calls that they remove Infowars content, followed with similar measures. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”

YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories. The site has repeatedly claimed, for example, that high-ranking Democrats operate a vast child sex-abuse ring, and that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian efforts to undermine America’s electoral process and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to to those efforts, has helped to cover it up.

Mr. Jones is facing defamation lawsuits filed by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting for claiming the shooting was an elaborate hoax.

Mr. Jones and Infowars did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a message posted on Twitter on Monday, Mr. Jones said: “We’ve been banned completely on Facebook, Apple & Spotify. What conservative outlet will be next?” He railed against the tech companies on his live show on Monday, which was streamed on the Infowars website, saying their moves were part of a leftist agenda in advance of the midterm elections.

The big tech firms that control, via their websites and apps, how media content is distributed have faced criticism in recent weeks for enabling Mr. Jones and Infowars, which rely largely on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to reach their audiences.

Some tech companies, including Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, had appeared reluctant to remove Mr. Jones’s pages entirely and were instead taking action against specific videos. YouTube, for instance, recently deleted four of Mr. Jones’s videos.

A Google spokesman said on Monday that YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel outright because he continued to flout policies he had already been penalized for violating.

Mr. Jones and Infowars still have other ways to reach listeners and readers, including a new smartphone app that is gaining traction on Apple’s App store and Google’s Play Store. Apple and other tech companies’ approach to Infowars content has been uneven.

Apple, for instance, decided to allow the Infowars app on its store after reviewing it, according to a person close to the company who declined to be named because he or she was not authorized to disclose the information.

Tech companies have long been wary of censoring speech, but an increasing amount of hate speech and misinformation — and louder protests from critics — have forced them to take action. Moves by the tech companies against Infowars and its peers have spurred a debate over free speech.

The broadsides from conservatives against Silicon Valley accelerated on Monday.

“To all other conservative news outlets — you are next,” Paul Joseph Watson, a right-wing commentator and Infowars contributor, said on Twitter on Monday. “The great censorship purge has truly begun.” Mr. Jones retweeted Mr. Watson’s post.


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