The campaign to silence Alex Jones finally crossed over into Twitter – which until now had faced intensifying media scrutiny and criticism for its hands off approach and tolerance of Jones’ posts on the platform – when on Tuesday, Twitter suspended the conspiracy theorist and blogger for violating the social media company’s policies, in a stark reversal for Jack Dorsey who previously bucked the trend by other tech giants to muzzle the InfoWars creator.
As CNET first reported, Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet, the company said. While Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which he said, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag”
Last week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended the company’s decision to not suspend Infowars and Jones from the platform, claiming they had not violated Twitter policies. As Apple removed links to some Infowars podcasts and YouTube terminated some of its channels, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey said refused to follow in their footsteps:
“We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories,” Dorsey said in a tweet last week. He later added that it was critical that journalists “document, validate and refute” accounts like those of Mr. Jones, which “can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors.”
Still, after a CNN report identifying numerous past tweets from Infowars and Jones that did violate Twitter’s rules, those posts were deleted. Tweets by Infowars and Jones deleted last week included posts attacking transgender and Muslim people; a claim that the 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax perpetrated by “crisis actors”; and a video calling David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., high-school shooting, a Nazi.
Dorsey finally caved overnight, with a “temporary suspension”, which will likely become permanent upon Jones’ next violation.
As Rolling Stone notes, while Jones and his sympathizers have cried censorship following the actions of YouTube, Facebook, Apple and others, internet-content platforms specifically reserve the right to suspend users or delete content found to violate of their guidelines — indeed, Infowars’ own terms of service includes such a provision.
Twitter’s crackdown came more than a week after technology companies, including Apple, YouTube and Facebook removed content from Jones and his site, Infowars. As the WSJ notes, the actions against Infowars intensified a growing debate over what role tech companies play in policing controversial content on their platforms while they simultaneously support the principle of free speech.
It is unclear if the ongoing censorship of Alex Jones is having the desired effect: as we noted over the weekend, Silicon Valley’s coordinated purge of all things Infowars from social media has had an unexpected result; website traffic to Infowars.com has soared in the past week, according to Amazon’s website ranking service Alexa.