Twitter, one of the last digital safe havens for Alex Jones, has banned the controversial Austin-based radio host and conspiracy theorist from its platform.
In a statement Thursday, the social media site said it took the action after accounts associated with Jones and his “InfoWars” show repeatedly violated Twitter’s policies. Facebook, Apple, Spotify and YouTube had previously taken various actions against Jones and some accounts linked to his program citing similar concerns. Those actions have included removing certain content and suspending related accounts.
The Twitter ban also applies to Periscope, a popular live video-streaming service the company owns.
“We took this action based on new reports of tweets and videos posted (Wednesday) that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations,” Twitter said in a statement. “As we continue to increase transparency around our rules and enforcement actions, we wanted to be open about this action given the broad interest in this case. We do not typically comment on enforcement actions we take against individual accounts, for their privacy.”
In addition to banning @realalexjones and @infowars, Twitter said it would monitor other accounts “potentially associated” with the host and his show to prevent any attempts to potentially circumvent its actions.
The Associated Press reported that the @realalexjones account had about 900,000 followers and @infowars about 430,000 followers before they were suspended.
Twitter did not point to any specific tweets that led to its decision Thursday but said it had issued multiple warnings to Jones about his posts.
A message on InfoWars’ website Thursday afternoon said the action against Jones was taken “after he faced his accusers in Washington, D.C., who were lobbying to have him silenced online.”
The statement referred to incidents Wednesday, when Jones confronted CNN reporter Oliver Darcy and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Video of the exchanges quickly went viral, showing Jones telling an assembled crowd at one point that social media sites “are outright banning people and they are blocking conservatives involved in their own First Amendment political speech.”
InfoWars also posted Thursday a 10-minute video clip addressing the Twitter ban in which Jones said he “knew it was coming.”
“I was taken down not because we lied but because we told the truth – and because we were popular,” Jones said in the video. “They’re banning everyone, and they used me as the cover story. They first demonize who I am, build a strawman, and then they attack that strawman and remove it.”
Commenters on the InfoWars site were quick to condemn Twitter’s actions.
“When Communist China tanks come rolling down streets of America, liberals will wish they had Infowars or any free speech,” one commenter wrote.
Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Spotify, YouTube and others are within their rights to ban Jones because they are private entities, Ben Bentzin, a marketing lecturer at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business, told the American-Statesman recently. Just because they have those protections, though, doesn’t mean they should take such actions, he said.
“Those who prefer not to be exposed to hate speech they don’t like will be emboldened by this,” Bentzin said in an August interview. “Where does it end? Who becomes the decider? It puts these private companies in a very difficult situation.”