Alex Jones has made a living making a fool of himself. Of course that is not how he sees himself. He sees himself as the one who is going to save us from gay frogs and false flags. His worldview, such as it is, is that the entire political power structure, both inside and outside of the United States, is one big conspiracy, and only he is brave enough and enlightened enough to tell the truth about it. He is genuinely an awful person and on behalf of people named Alex everywhere, I can assure you that the rest of us are ashamed he shares our name. Anyway, after months of talk about fake news and the state of political discourse: YouTube, Apple, Spotify, and Facebook have kicked Jones and Infowars off their respective platforms.
There has been much talk about whether these companies made the right decision in booting Jones. Of course a private company can do whatever it wants, we went through this whole process recently with Sarah Jeong and the New York Times, but that is an answer to a question nobody is asking. There is no public university cracking down against wrongthink or some state attorney general suing a religious baker in the case. The question is not can a private company ban certain points of view, but should they. In this they made a mistake.
Jones’ entire shtick is peddling conspiracy theories and by banning him from their major platforms they played right into his hands. Now Jones and Infowars have the allure of being banned and can portray themselves as free speech or truth-telling martyrs and they are the victims in some grand conspiracy. Now that these companies have banned him, Jones is receiving more attention than he otherwise would have and he will see, at least initially, an uptick in interest in Infowars, which he will be able to spin as “They tried to silence me, but the truth is winning out.” In fact it already has, Apple removed Jones’ podcasts but has not removed the Infowars app, which went from the 47th most popular in the country to the fourth in just two days. The Android app available on the Google Play Store went from 31st to 11th.
Chris Murphy is a United States Senator, which means he put his hand on a Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. He tweeted that the future of the country was tied to whether Infowars has a YouTube channel.
Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 6, 2018
While YouTube, Apple, Spotify, and Facebook can do whatever they want, a US Senator cannot, although they have opened themselves up to calls of hypocrisy and selective enforcement. To say that the survival of the country depends on banning certain speech we do not like, even despise, is chilling. Yes, Jones spreads hate and lies, but Chris Murphy should not be in the business of defining those terms. The First Amendment protects CNN’s right to make fools out of themselves by saying that journalists covering President Trump are equivalent to members of the military and it protects Jones’ right to make a fool out of himself by saying that Barack Obama is the head of Al-Qaeda or that George Bush did 9/11, even if CNN and Infowars both consider themselves to be enemies on opposing sides of the Fake News War of 2018.
Alex Jones and Infowars do not deserve to be taken seriously or to be a major influence on politics in this country. It is understandable that these companies may want to ban them to protect other users or the general public from harassment, especially as Jones is currently fighting a defamation lawsuit brought by the parents of Sandy Hook victims where he called them “actors” but by banning him certain companies have made them more relevant and a more sympathetic figure.