Yes, you read this right, this is a defense of Alex Jones. Now before you leave, this is not a defense in the traditional sense, believe it or not, but the move by top technology companies to erase most of his content on their platforms should bother you. If it doesn’t you aren’t thinking about it thoroughly enough.
How did we get here?
On the 7th of August, 2018, after months of deliberation, top tech companies, Apple, Google, Facebook and Spotify severely restricted the reach of political pundit and conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, and Infowars, his right-wing site that has been a leading peddler of false information online.
Alex Jones and Infowars have heavily relied on these social media platforms for years to spread their particular brand of dark, bizarre and frankly outrageous conspiracy theories. Some of these theories include, that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax and that mothers and students affected were hired
For more of Alex Jones, Here are some of his greatest hits
Combating, his willful lies has always been a difficult territory for tech firms. They have long desired to combat misinformation online especially following the spread of ‘fake news’ during the last presidential election,
What The Tech Companies Said
Facebook, Spotify and Google’s YouTube site removed Infowars content too. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Alex Jones, including one with nearly 1.7 million followers as of last month, for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”
YouTube terminated Alex Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers and billions of views on its videos, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on “hate speech”. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.
Apple removed five of the six Infowars podcasts on its popular Podcasts app. Commenting on the move, a spokeswoman said, “Apple does not tolerate hate speech.
Even the Adult site YouPorn followed Apple in this coordinated move.
If you’re wondering, yes, some of Jones’ videos were
Is It Too Early To Party?
Now in many ways, this looks like a win for ‘truth’ left-wing actors and even independents have welcomed this action as long overdue and desperately needed. However
Alex Jones is a smokescreen, what celebrants are really cheering for is an unchecked power that these monopolistic firms have to decide what is good, bad, hate or not. The most sticking feature of this power is that it cuts both
American poet, writer, and hip-hop artist Jackie Hill Perry came under fire early this year when a speech about her ex-gay lifestyle on the Harvard College campus led protestors and LGBTG+ activist to deem her speech hate speech as The Harvard Crimson reported. They sought to have her no-platformed but were not successful. Now, Imagine if this decision was instead made on the whim of some billionaire out there who decides what is tolerant and what is not.
This Is Not A Defence
This is not as much a
If there was another facebook or twitter then power would not be so concentrated; however, these companies are monopolies
desperateto abscond government regulation.
If we treat these public companies as public utilities, then we actually have a marketplace of ideas and thus we can beat Alex Jones speech with better speech. No platforming doesn’t make bad ideas disappear, it forces them underground. We cannot beat ideas we cannot name of identity. Covert actors with bad ideas are enduringly more dangerous and loud ones because
The moves over the last few days helped fuel that debate. “Whether you like @RealAlexJones and Infowars or not, he is undeniably the victim today of collusion by the big tech giants,” Nigel Farage, a British conservative politician, said on Twitter.
What’ in the Future?
In our current context, Facebook, Spotify, Google and YouTube and not just firms but large monopolies who control and dominate the internet. Their decisions have deep ramifications. Either we treat them as public utilities like gas and electricity which no one can be denied use of on grounds of hate or we regulate them. That way, they become accountable to democratic will and rule. If not, those cheering this decision do not know that they will inadvertently usher in a digital age where vested interested are allowed to dominate unchecked.