Controversial Infowars star Alex Jones' removal from Facebook, YouTube, Apple and Spotify over the past 24 hours, prompting even some of the bomb thrower's staunch critics to voice censorship concerns.
Jones is a notorious conspiracy theorist who has been widely criticized for a variety of outlandish and polarizing content including discredited claims about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Apple removed Jones’ podcasts on Sunday and then YouTube and Facebook both declared on Monday that he was violating their terms and policies with his rhetoric. Spotify also removed all episodes of “The Alex Jones Show” from its service. Jones quickly became one of the top trends across social media with critics celebrating that he was pulled from the tech giants and others coming to his defense -- sort of.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell echoed many pundits, stating that, while Jones is not to be taken seriously, censoring him could result in further actions against people that aren’t accepted by the mainstream media.
“I don’t support Alex Jones and what Infowars produces. He’s not a conservative. However, banning him and his outlet is wrong.”
“I don’t support Alex Jones and what InfoWars produces. He’s not a conservative. However, banning him and his outlet is wrong. It’s not just a slippery slope, it’s a dangerous cliff that these social media companies are jumping off to satisfy CNN and other liberal outlets,” Bozell said, presumably referring to recent push by CNN to have Info Wars removed from various platforms.
Bozell said that tech giants caving to CNN’s push “is part of a disturbing trend” that includes influential conservatives being muted on Twitter.
“Social media sites are supposedly neutral platforms, but they are increasingly becoming opportunities for the left and major media to censor any content that they don’t like,” Bozell said. “Conservatives are increasingly concerned that InfoWars is not the end point for those who want to ban speech. It’s just the beginning. We are rapidly approaching a point where censorship of opposing voices is the norm. That’s dangerous.”
The tech giants have said they won’t tolerate hate speech, and Jones was given the boot as a result. Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote that much “of what Jones and his employees say is absolutely rotten pig excrement,” but added that the term hate speech is too ambiguous.
“Trust in social media is declining nearly as fast as trust in media overall. There’s a reason for that. And it’s not because social media tolerates voices like Jones,” Shapiro wrote. “It’s because they don’t tolerate voices like Jones while tolerating voices who are just as bad on the political Left – and they show no signs of limiting their censorship to Alex Jones.”
Conservative strategist Chris Barron said that social media platforms are not trying to stop "hate speech" or clean up the toxic culture of social media.
“If they were, they would be hammering toxic folks on both sides. This is about silencing conservative voices. Period,” Barron told Fox News.
Many observers warned that “Big Tech” plans on additional censorship.
Media analyst Mark Dice tweeted, “Regardless what you think of him and Infowars, this is the equivalent of digital book burning and sets a horrifying precedent for mass censorship by Big Tech.”
Daily Wire reporter Michael Knowles wrote, “Conservatives should vigorously oppose Big Tech's censorship of Alex Jones. He may be a conspiratorial, frequently incoherent, shirtless vitamin salesman, but the Left sees no difference between him and William F. Buckley Jr. They're just establishing the principle to silence us.”
Yet another critic supported forums independently booting Jones, but decried whant he called a "coordinated" effort.
"Alex Jones should have been kicked off outlets long ago---inciting and provoking violence is not protected free speech & outlets can kick vile creatures like Jones off if they want. BUT, this COORDINATED banishment of Jones by big social outlets creates dangerous slippery slope,” journalist Jordan Chariton tweeted.