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’… https://t.co/f9LqlztOV0— jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack 🌍🌏🌎)1533687098.0
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.
Unfortunately for Harvey and Dorsey, the offending ban worthy content Harvey pointed out in his company email actually was on Twitter.
On Friday, August 10, Twitter responded to CNN's story and list of TOS violating Alex Jones and Infowars Twitter posts. The social media company admitted at least 7 of the Twitter posts clearly violated their TOS.
But, the social media giant added, since Jones deleted the posts after Darcy's CNN expose, no harm-no foul, Jones was good to go. This response received major pushback.
Even before the CNN story, Dorsey's announcement on August 8 led some Twitter users to plan a mass deactivation of their accounts in protest under the hashtag #DeactiDay. Movement founder and frequent Dorsey critic Mike Monteiro said in an interview with Mashable:
You’ve got the perfect platform for spreading hate and there’s no checks on it whatsoever. Alex Jones was just the final straw."
Next Friday. We’re out. The only thing Twitter cares about is engagement. Let’s stop giving it to them. Reclaim you… https://t.co/Dcnq1OV8Az— Mike Monteiro🌹 (@Mike Monteiro🌹)1534004489.0
Thanks for listening. If you just can't live without my dumb jokes, #Resistance posts, and pictures of my pets, I'l… https://t.co/TwN6zAFWT4— Wil 'this account mocks fascists' Wheaton (@Wil 'this account mocks fascists' Wheaton)1534193015.0
But Tuesday night, after Jones uploaded another Twitter TOS violating video, he finally earned a ban from the platform. After requiring Jones to delete the video—which he did—he received a 7 day ban from tweeting, retweeting, or liking any messages.
@RubenBolling @Twitter If @twitter enforced its own rules, they'd cancel his account *and* Infowars's for allowing… https://t.co/0plV0dJOjL— Kevin J. Maroney (@Kevin J. Maroney)1534363892.0
Wednesday morning, Jones went to his separate Infowars Twitter account to post a rambling 13 plus minute diatribe proclaiming himself the real victim. That video was soon also deleted but not before Twitter imposed a 7 day ban on the Infowars account too.
Infowars Twitter post on August 15, 2018 (Twitter screen grab)
Of the video that earned him the week long ban, Jones claims he only defended freedom and denounced censorship. Jones stated in his second deleted video:
On Twitter, we have been so careful even to follow their anti-free speech, university SJW rules, so a video about Donald Trump needing to take action against web censorship, that gets flagged and gets us suspended for seven days...I guess Dorsey is toying with us, or his people are."
A viewing of the 2 minute video made available by Media Matters tells a different story however.
In it, Alex Jones tells President Trump he must gather loyal people to violently take care of censorship against people like Alex Jones then tells listeners—if they are truly patriotic—to get their "battle rifles" ready against mainstream media, the "Chicom operatives" and anyone else who got Alex Jones banned for Jones' own words and behavior.
Alex Jones original Twitter video that earned him a 7 day ban on the platform. (Twitter screen grab)
In his Wednesday rambling 13 minute long rebuttal to his 7 day Twitter ban, Jones stated:
Infowars is now a rallying cry for free speech in Americana, so I am very honored to be under attack."
But anyone familiar with Jones suspects a motive other than freedom is the basis for everything.
Jones used his social media presence—since no remotely respectable news organization would give him airtime—to sell supplements and survivalist gear that he assured his listeners they would need for the coming civil war that he predicted for July 4 and again on Tuesday.