Earlier this month a slew of social media platforms including iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and Pinterest, banned Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory promoting website InfoWars. While Jones claims it violates his right to free speech, the platforms bowed to mounting public pressure to enforce the requirements of each company’s own terms of service (TOS).
Twitter now joins them, at least temporarily.
People on social media platforms either personally experience suspensions or bans or know people who have. The push to ban Alex Jones centered on the easily documented and proven double standards each platform used. If an individual called for people to kill someone, they could have their accounts suspended temporarily or outright banned. But if Alex Jones told his many listeners to commit violent acts, Jones suffered no consequences.
The lone major holdout on the removal of Alex Jones and Infowars for repeated flagrant violations of TOS agreements was Twitter. However their founder and CEO Jack Dorsey explained Jones never violated Twitter’s rules, but if he did Dorsey’s company would hold Jones and Infowars to the same standard as all—or most with one major exception at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—other users.
On August 8, Dorsey took to Twitter and stated:
We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does.”
We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday. We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.
— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
However many soon pointed out a small problem with Dorsey’s reasoning. They found—without looking very hard—many examples of the Alex Jones and the separate Infowars Twitter accounts violating the platform’s TOS agreement.
Just a day later on August 9, CNN’s Oliver Darcy presented a series of Jones or Infowars Twitter posts all in clear violation of Twitter’s TOS. After the information was published, all of the posts were deleted from the social media platform.
Darcy also used an email from Twitter’s vice president for trust and safety, Del Harvey, against the tech giant. Harvey, in a message to employees, assured them that if the content cited by YouTube or Facebook that got Jones banned had appeared on Twitter, they would also ban him.
Not so fast, corrected Darcy.