Apple iTunes Removes Alex Jones’ ‘Infowars’ Podcasts, Facebook & YouTube Follow Suit
On Sunday, August 5, 2018, Apple announced that the company had removed five out of six of Alex Jones‘ Infowars podcasts from its iTunes and podcast apps. Jones, a conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist, has been under fire from many activists for years over his dangerous spread of misinformation and hate speech. His most famous conspiracy theory is that the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting is a hoax, and Jones is currently being sued by the parents of one of the victims for defamation and harassment.
In Apple’s statement to BuzzFeed News, they explained their reasoning:
“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
Apple is not the first platform to ban Jones. Spotify removed a few of Jones’ podcasts before announcing the removal of all episodes of The Alex Jones Show on Monday, August 6, 2018, citing their policy against hate content. According to CNBC, Facebook removed four of Jones’ videos and suspended Jones’ personal profile for 30 days stating that he violated their content guidelines. On Monday morning, Facebook announced that they had removed four of Jones’ pages after multiple warnings to him to follow their guidelines. The social media platform stated they received several complaints that Jones’ pages were “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”
YouTube and Facebook removed Jones’ official channel and pages on Monday as well. YouTube had previously removed some of Jones’ videos and banned him from live streaming for his violations of their community guidelines, but Jones continued to live stream on other channels. This led the company to take further action. A YouTube spokesperson stated, “All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube. When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.”
Various media outlets and activists were pressuring Apple to remove Jones’ and Infowars‘ podcasts from its platform and the company was slow on the uptake. Sleeping Giants, an online activist group, had spoken out against Apple last week about their delay to join other digital platforms in removing Jones’ content.
Okay…what is happening here?@iTunes @apple, are you really choosing to host Infowars on your platform after Alex Jones’ harassment of Sandy Hook parents and Vegas shooting victims and threats to the Special Counsel? How does this not break your Terms Of Service? https://t.co/Bfhwf6NXYN
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) July 30, 2018
While Apple might have been late to the game with their ban — and Jones’ podcasts can certainly be found elsewhere — their decision is widespread and effective in curbing Jones’ content. Apple is the largest distribution platform on the internet, with 50 billion total downloads and streams.