The race among the world’s biggest tech platforms to erase content by controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has reached a new phase, following a series of sweeping, but apparently uncoordinated, actions against the founder of Infowars by YouTube, Apple, and others in the past 24 hours. Among other things, Jones’s site has argued that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax and that the FBI engineered the Boston Marathon bombing.
This afternoon, Alex Jones’s main YouTube channel went offline, displaying a message saying it had been terminated for violating the site’s community guidelines. Jones’s channel had already fallen foul of moderators in February, after one of his videos promoted the outlandish theory that the survivors of the Parkland shooting were trained “crisis actors.” YouTube said that the video violated its policy against harassment and bullying. His channel got another strike on July 25, and four videos were deleted for containing instances of hate speech and child endangerment. Jones’s main channel on the site had 2.4 million subscribers as of this morning.
Yesterday (Aug 5.), Buzzfeed first reported that Apple had removed the full catalogs of five of six Infowars podcasts—including the flagship Alex Jones and War Room podcasts—from its podcast directory for violating the company’s hate speech guidelines. (The only Infowars-branded podcast that remains is RealNews, hosted by David Knight.) Though Apple’s podcast platform does not host content itself, it maintains a de facto monopoly on the industry by providing the built-in route for iPhone owners to find and subscribe to hundreds of thousands of podcasts.
Perhaps anticipating such a move, Jones has been pushing his newly launched Infowars app, which allows users to stream all of the network’s podcasts. That app is still available on the iOS App Store, the guidelines of which say Apple will “reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line.” Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (The app is also available on Google Play.)
Facebook announced today that it had removed four pages belonging to Alex Jones “for repeatedly posting content over the past several days” that breaks the platform’s community standards. The content, Facebook said, had glorified violence and used “dehumanizing language” to describe people who are transgender, Muslims, and immigrants. On July 28, Facebook deleted four of Jones’s videos, and stopped him from posting to his personal Facebook page for 30 days. The company noted that the “unpublishing” of the content was related to violations of its hate speech and bullying policies—and not because they propagated fake news.
On Aug. 1, Spotify banned some Infowars content for violating its new policy about hate content and conduct. But unlike Apple, Spotify had only removed specific episodes until today, when the company said that it had deleted all episodes of The Alex Jones Show from its streaming platform.
On Aug. 2, Stitcher, a popular podcast app, said it had removed all episodes of The Alex Jones Show from its listings. ”He has, on multiple occasions, harassed or allowed harassment of private individuals and organizations,” it said.
This post was updated at 12:40pm ET to reflect the termination of Jones’s YouTube account.