Facebook, Youtube, other platforms ban Alex Jones

Facebook has cracked down on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by removing four of his pages, citing breaches of its community standards.

The social media site removed the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page, Facebook said in a blog post Monday.

The ban follows Apple's and Spotify's removal of his podcasts on Sunday, a 90-day ban on live broadcasts on YouTube late last month, and a 30-day Facebook suspension late last month of Jones' personal page that he was able to skirt by broadcasting on the other pages.

"Since then, more content from the same Pages has been reported to us -- upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies," Facebook said Monday.

Facebook noted that the ban wasn't related to Infowars' spreading of fake news.

Jones tweeted his response to the ban Monday.

"We've been banned completely on Facebook, Apple, & Spotify. What conservative news outlet will be next?" he wrote. "The one platform that they CAN'T ban and will ALWAYS have our live streams is http://infowars.com/show. Spread the links to help #Infowars fight #Censorship"

An Infowars editor echoed Jones' response to the ban. It's an "ideological purge intended to re-define the very concept of free speech," Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson said in an Infowars post.

"If free speech does not include controversial/unpopular/offensive speech, it doesn't exist," he wrote. "A society in which free speech doesn't exist is doomed to collapse into authoritarianism."

Jones is the founder and star of Infowars, which started as a local radio broadcast in Austin, Texas, in 1999 but grew alongside the rise of the internet. Jones now has an international following and millions of viewers on his daily livestream.

He has been widely criticized for promoting conspiracy theories, including those about the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In April, the parents of Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner sued Jones, saying his conspiracy theories led to death threats against them and "intense emotional anguish."

Later in the day, Youtube announced it had also removed Jones. The Alex Jones Channel, Infowars' biggest YouTube account with 2.4 million subscribers, now simply bears the message "this account has been terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines."

YouTube has a "three strikes" policy that terminates accounts after three violations of its community guidelines within three months.

Earlier this year, the channel had racked up "strikes" after posting multiple clips about the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at a Florida high school that falsely alleged the survivors were "crisis actors." YouTube has a policy forbidding malicious harassment and bullying.

In a statement, YouTube said that all users agree to comply with its 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," the company said.

While the ban cuts off a popular way to watch Infowars' videos and a revenue stream, Jones' outlet makes most of its money by selling nutritional supplements on its own website, where viewers can also find other versions of the channel's videos. Jones has been widely criticized for promoting untrue, virulent hypotheses about tragic events like the 2001 terrorist attacks on World Trade Center in New York that killed nearly 3,000 people and the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 26 students and staff.

In February, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that consistently enforcing its "three strikes" rule is important, regardless of the outcry. For example, YouTube star Logan Paul wasn't kicked off the site for posting a video in December of a suicide victim in Japan -- despite wide public backlash -- because that counted as one strike, Wojcicki said. Instead, YouTube temporarily suspended ads from Paul's channel and removed him from a preferential advertising group, cutting off a lucrative revenue stream.

Criticism against online platforms like Facebook and Google-owned YouTube has ratcheted up in recent months, as they seemingly fail to remove high-profile hoaxes and unfounded conspiracy theories about tragedies before they reach hundreds of thousands of people.

In February, YouTube's top-trending section featured a video falsely accusing David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, of being a crisis actor, or someone paid to pretend to have been affected by a tragedy for political gain. The video was viewed more than 200,000 times before YouTube removed it, but not before it became the service's No. 1 top-trending clip.

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