A wave of censorship, targeting alternative media and independent activists started on August 5th.
It all started with what appeared as a coordinated attack by Apple, Facebook and YouTube on broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars network. The companies summarily banned his and his websites content from their platforms.
The bans follow a public backlash due to InfoWars rhetoric, mostly for popularizing the false belief that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting never happened. Alex Jones is the defendant in a precedent-setting lawsuit against him by the parents of a Sandy Hook victim.
At first, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify selectively removed some episodes of Jones’ podcasts and shows or removing specific social media posts they claim to be in violation of various policies while allowing Infowars channels to remain active. On August 2nd, audio streaming app Stitcher was the first platform to remove all of Jones’ content, without exceptions. Apple followed on August 5th.
Alex Jones’ response to the ban blames mainstream corporate media and its dwindling audience for becoming engines of censorship and harassment against those that, according to him, follow the constitution and attempt to restore the US republic. He further says that they are attempting to shut down all of their competitions and calls mass media corporations terrorist organizations, most of them being on the communist Chinese payroll. He further elaborated that this is all a bid to meddle in the midterm elections, the tech giants are doing it to protect political interest.
Regarding the litigation against him from Noah Pozner’s parents for the claims that the Sandy Hook shooting did not happen, Alex Jones and his lawyer say that the case is an attempt “to silence those who openly oppose their very public ‘herculean’ efforts to ban the sale of certain weapons, ammunition and accessories, to pass new laws relating to gun registration and to limit free speech.” Mr. Jones’ lawyer further states that Alex Jones’ theories are just opinion, which is broadly protected by the First Amendment.
Jones and InfoWars, however, are not the only targeted media and activists. Numerous YouTube channels such as Activist Post, Waking Times, A New Kind of Human, Richie Allen have been closed in recent months. Giants like Facebook and Google have removed the content without providing any evidence of a breach of terms. Facebook and Google have also been removing the ability to monetize content for alternative channels, which is often the main source of income for the activists.
As reported by ZeroHedge, the crackdown against alternative media figures continues. Several Libertarian figures, including the Ron Paul Institute director, found their Twitter accounts suspended. However, as recently as August 6th, Vox reported that Alex Jones’ twitter account had not been suspended, because it is not in breach terms, according to a statement of the company.
On August 6th, Twitter suspended the editorial director of antiwar.com Scott Horton, former State Department employee Peter Van Buren, and Dan McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute.
Are you next?
— Justin Raimondo (@JustinRaimondo) August 6, 2018
According to Horton, he was suspended for the use of “improper language” against journalist Jonathan M. Katz, while McAdams was banned for retweeting him. Their past tweets were still available for the public, whereas the entire account of Van Buren was removed.
According to TargetLibery, Horton and McAdams fell victim of Twitter’s suspension algorithm after objecting to Katz’s quarrel with Van Buren over an earlier interview.
The suspensions follow the Twitter ban of black conservative Candace Owen from the site for highlighting the algorithmic bias of Twitter by replacing the word “white” with “Jewish” in a series of tweets modeled on those by New York Times editor Sarah Jeong.
Sarah Jeong, who is an open bigot, that hates white people, men and cops was hired by the New York Times, who subsequently defended their hire. Her accounts on social media platforms were not purged and she was not sanctioned in any way. To show for the double standards presented by tech giants, Candace Owen, attempted to do the same and was instantly suspended from Twitter.
Democrats have redefined racism precisely so people like Sarah Jeong can say racist things and still get jobs at the New York Times. pic.twitter.com/ibjWFy5NLi
— Will Chamberlain ?? (@willchamberlain) August 2, 2018
The tech giants often come under criticism for engaging in political censorship, using their market dominance and lack of legislated neutrality requirements to target descent voices ahead of the midterm elections.
Black people are only fit to live underground like groveling goblins. They have stopped breeding and will all go extinct soon. I enjoy being cruel to old black women.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) August 4, 2018
On August 7th, Nigel Farage wrote “while many on the libertarian right and within the conservative movement have their issues with Alex Jones and InfoWars, this week’s announcement by YouTube, Facebook, Apple, and Spotify represents a concerted effort of proscription and censorship that could just as soon see any of us confined to the dustbin of social media history.”
“These platforms that claim to be “open” and in favor of “free speech” are now routinely targeting — whether by human intervention or not — the views and expressions of conservatives and anti-globalists. This is why they no longer even fit the bill of “platforms.” They are publishers in the same way we regard news outlets as publishers. They may use more machine learning and automation, but their systems clearly take editorial positions. We need to hold them to account in the same way we do any other publisher,” Farage continued.
Tech giants are refusing the acknowledge the idea that in the age of increasing polarization of the userbase, “protecting free speech” isn’t a solid and firm policy on their sites, but rather an increasingly useful excuse they can use to avoid taking controversial action.
That is most likely the reason behind scale of the recent crackdown. After Apple and Stitcher began their banwaves, Spotify, Facebook and YouTube followed. The more controversial action in the situation would be not following the example of the other tech giants and reinforcing the idea of free speech, rather than following in the footsteps of others that didn’t.