After months of being accused by Republicans of unfairly censoring and targeting conservative writers and websites, the tech world joined hands on Monday and removed much of InfoWars’ online footprint from the social media landscape.
Facebook, Apple, and Spotify have all removed InfoWars content from their respective websites following intense pressure to do so from Democrats like Rep. Ted Deutch. Citing “hate speech” violations without getting into specifics, Facebook announced on Monday that the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page, and the InfoWars Nightly News Page would all be coming down permanently.
In a series of tweets, frequent InfoWars contributor Paul Joseph Watson said that the tech world’s intolerance of conservative views and alternative speech was coming to a head. He warned that conservatives who believe that InfoWars represents a unique niche in the online world unrelated to their own political point of view were simply putting their heads in the sand.
“Facebook has permanently BANNED Infowars,” Watson wrote on Monday. “For unspecified ‘hate speech.’ They didn’t even tell us what the offending posts were. This sets a chilling precedent for free speech. To all other conservative news outlets – you are next. The great censorship purge has truly begun.”
Agreed. It would be easy to dismiss this as “that old loony InfoWars” and not really give this issue the weight it deserves. And if Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of them had been operating in good faith up till now, we might even be able to believe it. But unfortunately, they haven’t. Even just this weekend, Twitter banned conservative writer Candace Owens from the platform (mistakenly, they claim) for doing nothing more or less than satirizing a racist editorialist the New York Times just put on the payroll. And when it comes to these sites censoring and banning conservatives, that example doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Just listen to the way Facebook explains their decision to ban Jones and InfoWars from the platform.
“Upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies,” they wrote. “All four Pages have been unpublished for repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes. While much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news, which is a serious issue that we are working to address by demoting links marked wrong by fact checkers and suggesting additional content, none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this.”
So right on the marquee, they admit that this has nothing to do with Alex Jones’s predilection for unproven stories and conspiracy theories. THAT is the content that makes InfoWars different from a conservative site like Breitbart or even Unfiltered Patriot. When you get into the other stuff – “dehumanizing language directed at people who are transgender, Muslims, and immigrants” for example…well, let’s just say, Watson is absolutely right. This is the death knell for free speech on social media. It is the perfect mirror of what’s going on in the UK right now and, considering the power these sites wield over Washington, could have ramifications that go way beyond the internet.
Make no mistake, something is happening. Not to sound too much like Alex Jones, but let’s put it this way: Powerful forces in this country are still apoplectic over the election of Donald Trump. They are going to do everything they can to make sure that what happened in 2016 NEVER happens again. They can’t win the war of ideas, so they’re going to shut the argument down altogether.
Get ready, because things are about to get messy.