Controversial talk-show host Alex Jones has been suspended for 30 days by Facebook because of posting four videos that the social-networking giant deemed offensive. The suspension only includes Jones’ personal page and any pages directly managed by him. The page for his Infowars platform is, thus far, unaffected by the suspension.
For 30 days, Jones may not post any new content to his page or any page he manages. Facebook has removed the four videos that it said violated its community standards. Two of the videos removed reportedly contained “hate speech” against Muslims; another was said to contain “hate speech” against transgendered people. The fourth video showed a child who was pushed to the ground by an adult and was removed because of “child endangerment” standards.
“Our Community Standards make it clear that we prohibit content that encourages physical harm [bullying], or attacks on someone based on their religious affiliation or gender identity [hate speech],” a Facebook statement said. “We remove content that violates our standards as soon as we’re aware of it.”
It’s not the first time Jones has run afoul of the social-media mobocracy. YouTube has issued multiple strikes against him, one only last week. If a YouTube channel receives three strikes in a three-month period, it is deleted. Jones has also faced multiple Twitter suspensions. Facebook reportedly warned Jones that he had violated community standards on several occasions and that a suspension would result if he continued to do so.
The Facebook ban comes after weeks of whining by mainstream news outlets such as CNN over why Jones is still allowed on the platform. On July 11, CNN’s Oliver Darcy tweeted, “Facebook is hosting an event about how committed they are to fighting fake news, but they have no good answer when I ask as to why they permit InfoWars to have a page on their platform.”
This prompted a tweet back from the president’s son Donald Trump Jr.: “Seriously, if someone is going to lead the charge against fake news, shouldn’t they be a lot more credible than CNN?”
Facebook has been on a mission to fight the spread of so-called fake news by enlisting the assistance of “non-partisan” fact-checkers. But what is fake and what is real is often in the eye of the beholder. For instance, far-left hate group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is one of Facebook’s “fact-checkers.” Does Facebook expect us to believe that a leftist scam group such as the SPLC can be impartial in judging the veracity of news?
Jones has at least one defender from an unlikely source. Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R), a frequent target of Jones and his admittedly conspiracy-laden media platform, came out against Facebook’s treatment of Jones. “Am no fan of Jones — among other things he has a habit of repeatedly slandering my Dad by falsely accusing him of killing JFK — but who the hell made Facebook the arbiter of political speech? Free speech includes views you disagree with,” Cruz tweeted.
And the senator is correct. Facebook and the “fact-checkers” at the SPLC have no business censoring anybody’s speech. Besides, the social network is full of options for people who don’t wish to see content from Infowars or anyone else. Users have the ability to act as their own censors. They can block content, advertising, and even their own friends who post things they find objectionable. Facebook users can already create their own bubbles. There’s no need to add another layer of protection in the form of censorship.
Jones is an easy target because of his sometimes questionable choices for content on Infowars. He is bellicose and provocative. He uses clickbait headlines, designed to shock readers and listeners. The censorship of his platform is something the majority of the United States will simply shrug at.
But who’s to say what’s next to be censored for being “hate speech” or “fake news?” Tucker Carlson? Sean Hannity? The New American? Jones himself believes that he is simply the first domino to be toppled. “Infowars has been chosen as the test subject for total internet censorship,” Jones tweeted. It’s possible he’s right.
Ironically, Jones’ suspension comes in the same week that Facebook suffered the biggest one-day loss in market value for any U.S. company in history. Shares of the company fell nearly 20 percent on July 26, erasing around 120 billion in market value for the company. Facebook executives blamed the drop on predictions of slowing growth for the company, though some might say it was poetic justice.