Following a 30-day suspension, Facebook has permanently banned the four main pages of Alex Jones’ Infowars, citing instances in which Infowars glorified violence and used “dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.” The move by Facebook comes only hours after Apple removed all but one of the Infowars podcasts from its podcast directory (the one that remains is Real News with David Knight, which I suspect is neither “real” nor “news.” Apple made the move, citing the fact that it does not “tolerate hate speech.” Spotify, meanwhile, has also taken action, removing every episode of The Alex Jones Show from its platform (three Infowars podcasts, however, still remain). Stitcher has also removed Alex Jones. All of these actions come after YouTube has also banned certain videos, although the Alex Jones channel and its 2.4 million subscribers still remain.
This is all unquestionably good news. It cripples Alex Jones’ ability to broadcast his hate speech and punishes a man who claims that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked by left-wing conspiracist, who believes that the Pulse nightclub shooting was plotted by the U.S. government, that the FBI was behind the Boston Marathon bombing, that 9/11 was an inside job, and that Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime performance was Satanic.
This morning I went over to Infowars to see if they’d ignore the news, or cover it, and — as I should have guessed — they have embraced the news, using it to further illustrate that there is a globalist, leftist plot against them and that the left is in bed with corporate America. They’re using the news to martyr themselves, and I suspect they will have some success with that approach, although it won’t matter as much if they lose their ability to distribute their content.
Infowars, naturally, suggests that this is a free-speech issue.
What we are witnessing is an ideological purge intended to re-define the very concept of free speech.
If free speech does not include controversial/unpopular/offensive speech, it doesn’t exist.
A society in which free speech doesn’t exist is doomed to collapse into authoritarianism.
The argument that Facebook and other social media giants are “private companies” and can do what they like is also a complete misnomer.
Big Tech have formed a monopoly by swallowing up content and they are now working hand in hand with the establishment media and leftist politicians to silence independent voices.
At least they do not cite the First Amendment, which obviously does not apply to private companies (as they note), although interestingly, even if the First Amendment applied here, Infowars would only have limited protections anyway, as the First Amendment does not protect speech meant to incite, fighting words, speech that inflicts severe emotional distress, and true threats of violence. Protections are also limited for commercials speech and false statements of fact under the First Amendment.
I will say this, however. Infowars is right that Big Tech has effectively formed a monopoly, and that Google, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Twitter, and Apple effectively control a company’s means of communication. As private companies, however, they can do as they wish. But it’s absurd to say that only Infowars or other right-wing sites are affected by that. How many websites have been shut down by seemingly arbitrary Facebook algorithm changes? Facebook has crushed the media — left, right, and center — in recent years. I’ve also seen companies go under because of Google algorithm changes, as well (in fact, a few years back, several substantially-sized movies sites — including this one — were inadvertently swept up in an algorithm change that decimated our Google traffic, and it was only by virtue of one of the site runners personally knowing someone at Google that we were able to roll back the inadvertent penalty).
Big Tech can do whatever the hell they want. They have rules, some of which penalize hate speech, some of which penalize clickbait, some of which penalize editorial content, some of which penalize pages that don’t load fast enough, or sites with the wrong kind of or too many ads. Hell, Pajiba has been trying to get into Google News for a decade and while hundreds of lesser movie blogs and celebrity gossip sites have been approved, we are consistently denied and no one tells us why. We assume maybe it’s language, which would be ironic, wouldn’t it, Alex Jones? You’re over there complaining about bans after you claim that Sandy Hook never happened, and we get fucked for using the word “fucked.”
But Jones is right: Big Tech owns us. But they own us all equally, and they can censor whatever the hell they want. But it’s not a “free speech” issue; we can still say whatever the hell we want. Alex Jones can say whatever the hell he wants. But “Big Tech” is under no obligation to allow any of us to profit off of what we say by distributing and amplifying those messages, and for Big Tech — or privately-owned companies — that decision typically comes down to their own profit motives. Alex Jones must have been making them a shitton of money for it to take them this long to finally do something about it.
Now, can we please do something about QAnon, Youtube? Maybe tweak that algorithm to protect National Treasure, Tom Hanks?
Meanwhile, Pajiba — a privately owned company — can also choose to use whatever header images we’d like, so long as they are properly licensed. We now replace images of Donald Trump with Kate Beckinsale, Sarah Sanders with Taika Waititi, and for completely arbitrary reasons, Alex Jones will now be replaced with photos of Mel C, better known as Sporty Spice. It is official Pajiba policy.