Update, 11:41 am Facebook has now "unpublished" four Infowars pages on the platform, stating that they have violated its community standards. "After a review, we have taken it down to glorify violence, which violates our graphic violence policy and describes people with transgender, Muslims and immigrants in dehumanizing language, which violates our hate speech," the company said in a blog post. Original post below.
Listening to Alex Jones & # 39; podcasts signing in via iTunes, they need to find a new way to get their regular audio fixes from the Infowars media empire. On Sunday night, BuzzFeed reported that Apple had removed five of the six podcasts on the Infowars network that were available on iTunes, including popular programs such as War Room and the Alex Jones Show, whose entire archives were scrubbed from the iTunes Store. By Monday morning, Spotify had followed Apple's lead and decided to boot the Alex Jones Show from their podcast channel as well.
The Infowars podcasts are still available on many other podcast apps. Pocket Deals, and Spotify continues to host other infowar broadcasts, such as War Room. So it's not that the podcast listeners at Infowars are unlucky. In addition, Infowars has released its official app for download in the Apple App Store, where it has been awarded a five-star rating, ranked 56th among all iPhone news apps, and collected more than 2,500 reviews from listeners. While Apple is not just putting Alex Jones on the curb, his decision to remove the five infowars shows from his massively popular podcast library is still the biggest action a tech platform has taken to remove news programs. promote conspiracy theories.
Last week, Spotify removed a handful of Infowars podcast episodes from its apps because the shows violated company policies against hate speech. The week before, both Facebook and YouTube removed a small subset of videos from the official sites of Alex Jones and imposed a temporary suspension on the Infowars boss. However, Jones 'surrogates have continued to post videos on Infowars' various YouTube channels, and although Jones is not allowed to manage his popular Facebook pages over the next few weeks, others on his network have continued to post videos of Jones wrestling with the news his verified page. But neither YouTube, Facebook or Spotify have taken steps to remove Infowars' presence from their platforms at the level Apple has made with its podcast library.
For years, Jones used his huge social media presence to bring his audience to dangerous conspiracy theories, false news and hate speech, most recently with the unfounded claim that specialist attorney Robert Mueller has a history of pedophilia – Facebook did not say against his Community rules. Thanks to these social media companies, Jones' content has run from the edges to the screens of millions. Take his claim that the adolescent filming survivors in Parkland, Florida, were paid actors who worked on behalf of gun control advocates. There was his false claim that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and its role in spreading the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led to real violence. Infowars has reinforced all of these theories on major social media sites with videos, podcasts and articles that have attracted millions of views. And after the suspensions on YouTube and Facebook are over, Jones will be able to do the same until he comes back in timeout.
Instead of darkening Jones for a few weeks, Apple basically decided that if there was a policy against hate speech, Alex Jones would not agree with his policy. "Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that developers and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all our users," said company spokesperson BuzzFeed in a statement. "Podcasts that violate these guidelines will be removed from our directory so that they will no longer be searchable or available for download or streaming, and we believe we can represent a wide range of views as long as people are respectful of dissenters," it was said. The company was under pressure from activists and journalists who asked if it would be followed by other social networks.
But what about the Infowars app, available in the Apple App Store as a "News" app is listed? According to Apple's App Store Guidelines, the company has rules against the exact type of content Jones has built his multimedia empire, including "defamatory, discriminatory or malicious content … especially if the app is likely to humiliate, intimidate or place a targeted one Person or group at risk. "
But since the Infowars app does not include a library of past shows, it's not immediately clear that the app was used to propagate the conspiracy theories Jones routinely practices. It's also not clear where Apple should draw the line. If Spotify decides to continue hosting infowars that contain false allegations about mass shootings, would that put Spotify in conflict with Apple's rules? If Apple threw out the iPhone app from Infowars from the App Store, it effectively means that no iPhone user could access the app, period. For podcasts, at least if one show in one app is not available, it should be on another. I contacted Apple for a comment on the Infowars app and will update this piece when I hear it.
But Apple is not just a marketplace for apps, a supposedly neutral platform. It also runs its own apps, including the popular iTunes Store and Podcasts app, and there, Apple has decided to enforce the rules that it already had in the books, making Jones content just a little harder to find. With other platforms and web services doing the same thing Spotify did on Monday morning, removing the Alex Jones show from their library, Jones's voice could be much harder to hear across the internet.