Big tech’s coordinated purge of InfoWars — which was hit by bans from Apple, Facebook, Spotify and YouTube in rapid succession — did not occur in a vacuum. On this issue, Silicon Valley bowed to CNN journalists and Democrat politicians who ceaselessly lobbied for the site to be censored.
It’s a sign of how the concentration of power in America has shifted from big government to big tech that politicians are now lobbying tech companies rather than the other way round, but that’s exactly what happened over the course of the past few months, as Democrats applied relentless pressure on Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants to censor InfoWars.
Chief among them was Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), who demanded that a Facebook representative “explain” their decision not to ban InfoWars at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on social media censorship last month. Calling Jones as “well-known conspiracy theorist” whose “brand is bullying,” Deutch also demanded Google’s representative explain how many strikes it would take for a channel on Google-owned YouTube to be deleted.
He then asked Google’s representative if they thought conspiracy theories were a “problem,” and asked her to explain the company’s planned solutions. It seems that YouTube has now come up with a solution: ban the channels that Rep. Deutch objects to.
At a previous hearing on social media censorship, Deutch, who represents Parkland, Florida, attacked tech companies for allowing “vile and outrageous and offensive garbage” on their platforms.
Multiple other congressional Democrats, including Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Jim Hines, and Ted Lieu have attacked the very idea of big tech censorship, calling Republican concerns a “conspiracy theory” and defending the right of tech giants to censor whomever they want.
Far-left media also played a role in demanding tech giants appoint themselves as the arbiters of free speech. Here’s the Guardian attacking Facebook for continuing to host InfoWars, and here’s BuzzFeed’s Joe Bernstein wondering why Twitter hasn’t followed Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and Apple in today’s purge. Bernstein was retweeted by CNN’s Oliver Darcy by the way.
All of these removals put @Twitter and @Jack in the very uncomfortable position of being the only major social network to disseminate @infowars. Imagine explaining that to your employees!
12:16 PM – Aug 6, 2018
2,316 people are talking about this
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“Facebook Wants To Cut Down On Misinformation. So Why Isn’t It Doing Anything About InfoWars” was the not-so-subtle headline at the Washington Post last month.
Perhaps the most strident was CNN, which repeatedly lobbied YouTube to demonetize InfoWars and ban Alex Jones. They also went after Facebook on the same issue, stating the social media “struggles to explain why InfoWars isn’t banned.” News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch has also attacked big tech for allowing “scurrilous news sources” to gain traction on the web.
What does this mean? It means that Democrats are pressuring social media companies to give them free political favors by granting them a free platform while denying one to their critics.
It also means that the corporate media are all working overtime to remove their competitors on social media.
And it’s working.
Alex Jones Gets to Declare a ‘Real Info War’ Against Big Tech ‘in It Together
Leftist website Slate recently published an article titled “Alex Jones Gets to Declare a Real Info War Now” in which the publication described the actual censorship that Jones suffered while claiming that he has not really been prevented from airing his ideas.
Slate published an article recently discussing the recent purge of Alex Jones and InfoWars pages across social media. Facebook, Youtube, and Apple all removed InfoWars content from their platforms in the space of a single day, which seems to imply that tech companies may be colluding with each other when they decide who should be de-platformed.
The Slate article states:
War or not, Alex Jones fans still have plenty of options to get their fix of right-fringe conspiracy-laden news: Beyond Infowars’ website, there’s the organization’s mobile app, which is still currently available for download in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. Slate first reported Monday morning that the Infowars app was still up in the Apple App Store despite the Apple podcast removal. At that time, the app ranked No. 56 in the App Store among news apps. By Monday evening, following the removals from Facebook and YouTube, Jones’ app had climbed to No. 7.
Though Apple might merit credit for giving the other platforms some cover to take more serious action against Jones, who has been using the sites to disseminate frequently harmful false stories for years, the fact that Infowars continues to have an app on Apple’s App Store is glaring. For what it’s worth, Infowars still has a presenceon LinkedIn and Instagram, too. But Monday’s bannings—and Jones’ response to them—raise a new question: Will the platforms’ actions diminish the reach of Jones’ conspiracy theories? (The more infamous of them include the false assertions that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and that the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, shooting are crisis actors.) Or will Jones be able to use the bans to paint himself as a free-speech martyr, further cementing his audience’s devotion?
According to Slate, because Infowars can still use its LinkedIn account, they haven’t reallybeen censored. While Infowars may retain access to its LinkedIn and Instagram profiles, the majority of its social media following was based around Facebook and YouTube. While it may still have access to those that follow on LinkedIn, its YouTube subscribers and Facebook follower figures far outweigh the LinkedIn following.
Slate then bemoans the fact that these platforms didn’t ban InfoWars earlier, calling Jones a “bigoted fabulist.”
One of the great ironies in this mess is that YouTube, Facebook, and Apple are all deciding to enforce community moderation policies against hate speech that they’ve long had on their books. Any one of them could have taken this action years ago. But they didn’t, perhaps fearing that they’d be labeled as censorious liberals executing a political agenda, as if there’s anything particularly partisan about preventing a popular and bigoted fabulist from using your services to spread lies that are leading to real-world harm. They helped Jones exit the fringe and penetrate the mainstream. Now their fear could be realized—they’re being labeled as left-wing tech companies acting out a political agenda by right-wing media critics.
And almost proving the collusion that many have feared, Slate states that big tech companies are “in it together,”
At least the tech companies are in it together. And, of course, Jones’ fans aren’t at a total loss: Their favorite broadcaster spent the day posting videos on Twitter, collecting likes and retweets by the thousands.
6 Questions that Tech Giants Refuse to Answer About the InfoWars Ban
7 Aug 20186,349
Even though the internet is aflame with controversy over the coordinated purge of Alex Jones and InfoWars from Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple, there is no real transparency over their decision and the process by which it was made.
Alex Jones and InfoWars have been top Twitter trends for hours, and even some left-wing journalists like Michael Tracey are decrying Silicon Valley’s Masters of the Universe appointing themselves the arbiters of free speech on the web.
But Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube have offered, at most, only copy and paste explanations for why they banned InfoWars content from their platforms — or why, after months of pressure from the Democrats and CNN, they all came to the same decision on the same day. Questions about transparency have a much broader scope that just the case of InfoWars and Alex Jones. Beyond the banning of other individuals such as Tommy Robinson, the same questions apply to a whole host of actions by the Masters of the Universe, including partnering with foreign governments to shut down accounts, shadowbanning users to limit the scope of their engagement, and mass user purges.
Breitbart News sent the following questions to Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple earlier today, and have yet to receive a real answer for most of them. Apple and YouTube chose to provide the same canned statement they provided to all other media outlets who contacted them, while Facebook and Spotify ignored our request entirely.
THE QUESTIONS SILICON VALLEY WON’T ANSWER
1) What content specifically from InfoWars/Alex Jones was found to be”hate speech” and otherwise rule breaking?
InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson confirmed to Breitbart News that none of the tech giants that targeted InfoWars and Alex Jones over the past 24 hours pointed to specific content that violated their terms of service.
2) When was the decision to ban them made? What changed over the course of a few days from when you defended not banning Infowars content?
Just a few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg defended InfoWars in an interview, saying: ” “The approach that we’ve taken to false news is not to say, you can’t say something wrong on the Internet… Everyone gets things wrong, and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.”
So what changed, why suddenly, and why concurrently with most other major platforms?
3) Who made the decision to take down Infowars?
It’s unlikely that the decision to ban InfoWars was taken by a rank-and-file content reviewer.
4) Will you provide clear guidelines on “hate speech” including defining hate speech in a manner that is clear to all users?
When pressed by a member of Congress earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that he couldn’t define “hate speech.” Yet that is the reason that Facebook and other platforms gave for banning InfoWars and Alex Jones today. Do they now have a definition? If so, what is it?
5) How does big tech plan to manage the incoming wave of demands to censor and remove content from other conservative sites?
Like this one, for example:
These companies (Facebook, Apple, YouTube, etc) will remove Alex Jones #InfoWars (and I agree) from their content offerings but not a know sexual predator? #MuteRKelly. RT if you are confused about how seriously they take sexual assault #TimesupWOC
11:55 AM – Aug 6, 2018
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6) Did Facebook/YouTube/Apple/Spotify communicate or coordinate with Google/YouTube, Apple, Spotify, or any other tech platform that recently banned InfoWars content prior to the takedown of Alex Jones and InfoWars’ content? Did any representative or employee of those companies reach out to Facebook/YouTube/Apple/Spotify before they undertook similar bans?
There was no apparent catalyzing event immediately prior to the censorship.
Here are the responses Breitbart News received from two of the companies contacted in their entirety.
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.
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
The other companies contacted by Breitbart News did not respond.
On a day that has left evening left-wingers like the HuffPost asking “why now?” the one thing that is clear is that the tech Masters of the Universe have some explaining to do.