Monday, 13 August 2018

Tech Giants’ Ban on Alex Jones May Be Having the Opposite Effect

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Last week’s purge of Alex Jones and InfoWars from Apple (iTunes), Facebook, YouTube (Google), and Spotify seems to have had an unexpected side effect. Upon the news that Jones was being removed from many of the top Internet platforms, subscriptions to his InfoWars app have skyrocketed. Ironically, the app has been listed on Google Play and iTunes as one of the top downloaded apps of last week.

“The good news is InfoWars has had the highest traffic it’s ever had — 5.6 million new subscribers in the past 48 hours — and so has my radio show,” Jones told the Daily Mail. “De-platforming doesn’t do anything —we already have the subscribers —it doesn’t do very much.”

Since the initial purge last Monday, several other tech companies have jumped on the dump-Alex-Jones bandwagon. Stitcher, a podcast app, had already banned Jones on August 2. Pinterest removed Jones’ and InfoWars’ content on August 6, followed by professional networking site LinkedIn and e-mail messaging platform MailChimp on August 7.

Interestingly, Twitter has not yet moved to ban Jones or InfoWars from its site. In a series of tweets on August 7, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained his reasons for keeping Jones around: “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 assuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”

Dorsey faced a great deal of backlash from leftists who complain that Jones has a long history of violating Twitter’s rules with “hate and harassment.” So far, to Dorsey’s credit, he has not taken the bait and Jones remains on Twitter.

Twitter’s Safety Team also chimed in, saying, “As we have stated publicly, we strongly believe Twitter should not be the arbiter of truth nor do we have scalable solutions to determine and action what’s true or false.”

Jones’ YouTube channel had more than 2.4 million subscribers and over a billion views, and had been the most-recommended channel for “conspiracy” and far right-wing consumers. One has to wonder how stockholders and advertisers feel about the removal of such a high-traffic channel. Since its removal, the number-one suggested channel for far-right viewers is now the Fox News channel.

Jared Holt, a leftist activist with Right Wing Watch, an attack-dog group sponsored by the far-left People for the American Way, is widely credited with creating the momentum in left-wing circles and Silicon Valley that led to the censorship of Jones and InfoWars. Holt first targeted Spotify, which resulted in the music-sharing company receiving boycott threats. Holt seems to have chosen Spotify out of spite.

“I experienced a personal struggle to get Spotify to list my own podcast,” Holt told Salon.com. “I guess I was a little offended that Alex Jones was able to get on the air and I wasn’t.”

And Holt sincerely believes that the censorship he is promoting will help an apparently easily confused American public to get better information. He stated, “But the greater effect this has is that Alex Jones and InfoWars cannot distribute these kinds of vitriolic conspiracy theories and smears as easily to the general American public.”

But in banning Jones, have Holt and the Silicon Valley mafia just made him stronger? The 5.6 million new InfoWars subscribers suggest that they may have done just that. Jones has been all over the news for a week now. These companies may have the right to serve whom they wish and ban whom they wish, but in choosing to ban Jones, they are setting themselves up, as Twitter’s Safety Team puts it, “as the arbiter of truth.”

Jones continues to be his inimitable self, refusing to back down and offering more “conspiracy theories” as to why he is being “un-personed” at this particular time.         

“They are misrepresenting what I’ve said and done and are using that to set a precedent for internet wide de-platforming, censorship beyond what Russia does, what China does, ahead of the midterms. The whole thing is fake.”

Free speech used to be an issue for the Democrats. But in favoring the censorship of Silicon Valley, the Left has surrendered that issue. Now, it is the Right that seems to champion the First Amendment. As the midterms draw nearer, Republicans should use this issue and call out Democrats such as Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who recently came out clearly in favor of censorship, tweeting, “InfoWars is the tip of a giant iceberg that uses hate and lies that uses Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Wrong, Mr. Murphy. Our Republic (our founding fathers gave us a republic, not a democracy) depends on freedom, not censorship. We need more ideas to choose from, not whatever the likes of you and the mainstream media choose for us. We need the freedom to speak out on all issues, especially the sensitive ones that people such as you are afraid to confront.

Image: screenshot from InfoWars app page

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