Good news, everyone!
August 6, 2018 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Alex Jones has been banned by Facebook, Apple, and Spotify Companies have started to target conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' show more broadly, rather than pulling specific episodes.
posted by hippybear (240 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just another example of America being censored by Big Gay Frog.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:13 AM on August 6 [44 favorites]


Excellent. Free speech does not mean that private corporations are obligated to provide a platform, and I am delighted that public pressure has resulted in at least some loss of platform for Jones. When you call and complain, you add just a little more pressure to those companies. Good job, everyone.
posted by sciatrix at 9:17 AM on August 6 [39 favorites]


30 Days is a start....I guess. He should be permanently banned because he's the most toxic kind of individual and his having a platform where he can reach out to that many people is worrisome. Baby-steps I guess. Ugh, fuck this guy.
posted by Fizz at 9:18 AM on August 6 [14 favorites]


And YouTube as well, just after you posted this!
posted by deezil at 9:23 AM on August 6 [21 favorites]


Boy, Twitter being the odd one out will surely spur them into oh who am I kidding they won't care.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 AM on August 6 [81 favorites]


Yeah Twitter looks really bad right now.
posted by Nelson at 9:34 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Thought experiment: how would public life be different if Trump's Twitter account was banned? (A boy can dream, can't he...?)
posted by PhineasGage at 9:35 AM on August 6 [9 favorites]


Boy, Twitter being the odd one out will surely spur them into oh who am I kidding they won't care.

Here are more characters. Eat them. EAT THEM!?!!
posted by Fizz at 9:35 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]


Twitter would have to start with Trump and they will never do that.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:35 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I'm convinced that Twitter just doesn't fucking care. I will be amazed if they turn around and actually execute some control over their platform.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 9:36 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


I'm convinced that Twitter's management are fascist sympathizers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:39 AM on August 6 [115 favorites]


Yeah -- it's not that they don't care, it's that they care in the wrong direction.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:39 AM on August 6 [21 favorites]


"So shines a good deed in a weary world"
posted by Captain_Science at 9:40 AM on August 6 [8 favorites]


Silenced all his life.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:43 AM on August 6 [11 favorites]


Twitter profits immensely from the garbage heap of humanity that is alt* on their platform.

They will never do anything about it, ever.
posted by jgooden at 9:43 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


And the handwringing over this has already begun. I am just done with the argument that giving a conspiracy peddler the boot will be the beginning of the fall into fascism because reasons.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:44 AM on August 6 [29 favorites]


You just know he's having a spittle-flecked meltdown over this.

That's so great.

Seems like these things happen in waves: everyone's waiting for someone else to go first, but once someone does, they all feel like they have cover to do it.

I can't find the link right now, but last night, I read an article about Jones' salad days in Austin broadcasting in the 90s. The author interviewed a number of people who knew him at the time. By all accounts, the real Alex Jones is every bit as bellicose and erratic as the on-the-air Alex Jones. He sounds like a textbook delusional narcissist – simultaneously a deliberate grifter, and (at least some of the time) a believer in his own grift. It's a type we know all too well from Trump, but you can find the same pattern in L. Ron Hubbard and other cult leaders. There's a lot of overlap between cult thinking and conspiracy thinking.

Here's hoping this emboldens companies to give other fuckheels the boot.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:45 AM on August 6 [8 favorites]


For anyone who thinks Facebook and YouTube blocking Alex Jones, I would like you to think a little bit about pornography.

Porn is an apt point of comparison for this. Now, I'm no fan of Alex Jones, but I am someone who is very pro-pornography. Porn is protected speech, and, as Tom Leher put it, "dirty books are fun!" YouTube and Facebook ban pornography from their platforms, and I am just fine with that. There's no shortage of places where you can get porn online, after all. Wal-Mart doesn't sell porn either, but you can still get it.

Now, if it's YouTube and Facebook's right to say "Hey, we don't want your porno here," it's no leap to assume that right extends to other objectionable content, and therefore to Alex Jones.

Much like pornography, though, there's plenty of ways people can get to Alex Jones's stuff. He still has InfoWars.com, after all. There's plenty of other platforms that are unwilling to prevent him from putting up more of his garbage content. His staff could spin up a PeerTube instance for him.

Not being on YouTube and Facebook hasn't hurt the porn industry. Not being on YouTube and Facebook might hurt Alex Jones (good.), but it's not censorship. It's not going to meaningfully keep his fans from accessing his garbage, and it might not even keep him from attracting new fans to be brainwashed into conspiracy nonsense. It's still the exact right thing for YouTube and Facebook to do.
posted by SansPoint at 9:45 AM on August 6 [59 favorites]


yeah even if they're not all actively enthusiastic supporters of fascism, they are giddy and deliberate profiteers of fascism to the extent that they actively promote it in order to make more money, which is like. is it worse? maybe? should they all diaf either way? oh yes.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:45 AM on August 6 [19 favorites]


I'm convinced that Twitter's management are fascist sympathizers.

The free speech* wing of the free speech* party.

* for fascists only
posted by tobascodagama at 9:46 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


I've actually just had great fun pointing out to a couple people that absolutely nothing is stopping Alex Jones from creating his own media platform to distribute his content rather than using Facebook or iTunes, and asking "why doesn't he start such a platform and let the free market decide?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on August 6 [69 favorites]


And the handwringing over this has already begun. I am just done with the argument that giving a conspiracy peddler the boot will be the beginning of the fall into fascism because reasons.

Likewise. I remember a fair amount of US-free-speech vs European-free-speech debates here in the very old days, but a lot of them seem really trite now. We have actual studies that show restricting hate speech works. The "marketplace of ideas" seems a very flimsy response in the bad-actor-packed unregulated libertarian "market" of the internet. "Good speech is the only answer to bad speech" increasingly sounds to me like "only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun".

Thing is, though, state censorship absolutely isn't the answer. What might be an answer is using the same approach that have worked in traditional media: consequences for misuse of speech, such as libel torts.

Which all comes back to the need for sites like Facebook to be held accountable as publishers, with everything that entails. "Common carrier" is no longer a just defence — they know enough about the content on their platforms to target it to the users most likely to engage with it, so they certainly know enough to take responsibility for its distribution.
posted by bonaldi at 9:58 AM on August 6 [25 favorites]


FascBook?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:58 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is cool. However.

Imagine the vast cesspit that would form if Fox News ran a Facebook clone, banned links from the clone to everything Trump calls fake news, and added a simple way for right-wing Facebook subscribers to close their Facebook accounts and import them into the clone just by clicking "I'm Deplorable." Facebook would be better for it but Facebook-with-a-goatee would be a scary incubator of weird things.
posted by pracowity at 9:58 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


We have that, it’s called Reddit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:00 AM on August 6 [67 favorites]


jRebbit?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:03 AM on August 6


Fizz: 30 Days is a start....I guess. He should be permanently banned because he's the most toxic kind of individual and his having a platform where he can reach out to that many people is worrisome. Baby-steps I guess. Ugh, fuck this guy.

To be clear, this isn't only a personal temp-ban, but temp-ban and purging some of his "company" content:
Facebook, which had imposed a 30-day ban on Jones’ personal page last week, removed four Infowars-related pages on Monday — the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page, and the Infowars Nightly News Page. The pages will be removed permanently if Jones doesn’t appeal the ruling.

In an extensive blog post, Facebook explained that the new bans are not in relation to already-removed videos, but for consistent glorification of violence and dehumanizing language. Facebook added that “while much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news…none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this.”

On Sunday evening, Apple decided to remove all but one of Infowars’ podcasts. “Real News with David Knight,” which focuses on a re-capping the daily news, remains. Apple, one of the largest podcast and stream providers, amassing more than 50 billion total streams and downloads, told Buzzfeed News the decision had been made under the company’s hate speech guidelines.
Before, Facebook had only temp-banned Jones as an individual, but others were able to keep posting content to Infowars.

Also, Infowars is only one of the hate-monger platforms, if not one of the most predominant. I hope this isn't just a (large, notable) action for public display, allowing other hate-mongers to become more predominant in the absence of Infowars on these platforms. (I can imagine some half-decent "SEO tactics" used to significantly boost the presence of the other "content makers" -- does searching for "Infogroup" or "Alex Jones" turn up these others first? I haven't searched, and I don't really want to even look that way, let alone search for the terms, to be honest.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:04 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I hope this isn't just a (large, notable) action for public display, allowing other hate-mongers to become more predominant in the absence of Infowars on these platforms.

I don't doubt for a Palo Alto minute that FB is watching where on FB that Jones' cockroaches scurry off to in his absence. I also imagine this will cause a hardening of his followers, such that the rhetoric on these other pages will start to become even more bannable than the Infowars stuff was.
posted by rhizome at 10:08 AM on August 6


Yeah Twitter looks really bad right now.

Evergreen.
posted by duffell at 10:08 AM on August 6 [18 favorites]


What's it gonna take to give this guy an aneurysm already?

I'm convinced that Twitter's management are fascist sympathizers.

Tech billionaire libertarianism is fascism... updated with a colorful, fun, infotainment user interface.

I am just done with the argument that giving a conspiracy peddler the boot will be the beginning of the fall into fascism because reasons.

Pretty sure it goes back to the idea that fair wages and health care for all will inevitably lead to slavery. Work makes you free, etc.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:09 AM on August 6 [8 favorites]


I've actually just had great fun pointing out to a couple people that absolutely nothing is stopping Alex Jones from creating his own media platform to distribute his content rather than using Facebook or iTunes, and asking "why doesn't he start such a platform and let the free market decide?"

What's he going to use? AWS? If so he'll run into the same problems he has with YouTube and Facebook. Jones/Infowars can set up their own infrastructure, but it seems to me that hosting and bandwidth costs would be extraordinarily expensive, and would eat into the margins of the Infowars supplements side of things, which is the real business that Jones operates.

The hateful "content" is just a means to an end, which is grift.
posted by JamesBay at 10:09 AM on August 6 [7 favorites]


even if they're not all actively enthusiastic supporters of fascism, they are giddy and deliberate profiteers of fascism

I also believe Twitter should be a lot more proactive on this, and share PhineasGage's dream channel: I mean, Trump must have violated Twitter's TOS many times over by now, right, so banning him wouldn't even be a political decision at this point.

But as for profiting by giving screen time to the fascists and arguments thereabouts, every news outlet is also guilty of that, even the most liberal ones. Hell, how much more activity do MetaFilter's Trumpian politics posts get than, like, every other front page post combined? Without the hellscape of 2016-2018, the blue pages would be a lot less active, but I don't think we'd say MeFi was profiteering.

Anyway, rambling before coffee. Flame me.
posted by rokusan at 10:12 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


What's it gonna take to give this guy an aneurysm already?

I am pretty sure that he doesn't actually care. His main business is con-artistry and being banned is very ON BRAND for him so I'm sure he'll be fine. Which isn't to say that he shouldn't be banned from everywhere forever because fuck that asshole but I assure you that any literal-shirt-rending anger you see from him over this will be 100% feigned.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:14 AM on August 6 [10 favorites]


What's he going to use? AWS? If so he'll run into the same problems he has with YouTube and Facebook.

Or, he can start his OWN media platform rather than using an existing one. Hell, Youtube doesn't have to be the only such platform of its kind, is there? No one is stopping him from starting his own similar platform, is it?

Jones/Infowars can set up their own infrastructure, but it seems to me that hosting and bandwidth costs would be extraordinarily expensive, and would eat into the margins of the Infowars supplements side of things, which is the real business that Jones operates.

.....Exactly my point. Well, that and "the government only protects your right to speak, it does not guarantee that others provide you a podium." The fact that he has the right to put in the due diligence of creating his own such platform, just like the creators of Youtube did in the first place, means that his freeze peach rights are not being infringed. The fact that such a move would be cost-prohibitive and ultimately unsuccessful is not an example of censorship - it is an example of the free market having ruled on his "ideas" and found them wanting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]


I'm not talking about profiting from having the content exist on the platform, I'm talking about profiting by actively and deliberately promoting aggressively hateful and racist content in sidebars and recommended follows, the same thing youtube does.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:20 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


> Facebook would be better for it but Facebook-with-a-goatee would be a scary incubator of weird things.

The marketplace of ideas isn't a meritocracy, but this idea that we have to coddle them or they'll build their own echo chamber ignores the fact that they already have their own echo chambers. If you're saying they might be able to build a Facebook clone that could actually overcome Facebook's network effects to the point where it would rival Facebook, well, I say bring it.

They own political talk radio and cable news in the US, but once you get outside of the political realm where listeners and viewers just want to be told what to believe, they do much more poorly. Witness any number of attempts to create conservative alternatives to The Daily Show, the laughing stock that is Conservapedia, and the critical and box office flops of their documentaries as compared to those of Michael Moore. AlexJonesBook would be a bunch of dead-enders talking to other dead-enders. Mixing that with a social networking site does not seem commercially viable to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:20 AM on August 6 [13 favorites]


What's he going to use? AWS?

Whatever he wants, even an AT&T cable modem. He just needs to sign up with Cloudflare to provide most of the actual bandwidth.
~$ host stormfront.org
stormfront.org has address 104.20.32.134

~$ whois 104.20.30.134

NetRange:       104.16.0.0 - 104.31.255.255
CIDR:           104.16.0.0/12
NetName:        CLOUDFLARENET
NetHandle:      NET-104-16-0-0-1
Parent:         NET104 (NET-104-0-0-0-0)
NetType:        Direct Assignment
OriginAS:       AS13335
Organization:   Cloudflare, Inc. (CLOUD14)
RegDate:        2014-03-28
Updated:        2017-02-17
Comment:        All Cloudflare abuse reporting can be done via https://www.cloudflare.com/abuse
Ref:            https://rdap.arin.net/registry/ip/104.16.0.0
[...]

posted by rhizome at 10:21 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Facebook would be better for it but Facebook-with-a-goatee would be a scary incubator of weird things.

I am totally ok with this. I would even donate to make sure Facebook-with-a-goatee happens.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:22 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Sure. Secure. Contain. Protect.
posted by Splunge at 10:25 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]


If you find someone openly using racist slurs on Twitter and report them they may get banned for a day or so, that’s about it.
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


If you're saying they might be able to build a Facebook clone that could actually overcome Facebook's network effects to the point where it would rival Facebook, well, I say bring it.

The world needs another Menshn. Hacker News is packed with alt-lites who could code this "in a weekend", too.
posted by bonaldi at 10:27 AM on August 6


At some point the Russian state will setup a "private" hosting infrastructure to provide low cost hosting for Jones, Breitbart, NRATV, or some future TrumpNewsNetwork as long as it contributes to the destabilization of the US and western Europe.
posted by cmfletcher at 10:29 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


At some point the Russian state will setup a "private" hosting infrastructure to provide low cost hosting for Jones, Breitbart, NRATV, or some future TrumpNewsNetwork as long as it contributes to the destabilization of the US and western Europe.

*gasp*

Ohmigod somewhere down the line someone is actually going to suggest that they use Livejounal as their platform and that's where they're all going to end up, isn't it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on August 6 [35 favorites]


Twitter just posted an official "moment" headlined, "Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify have removed content by Infowars' Alex Jones from their platforms" and now they're barely even being sotto voce in not bothering to pretend their TOS applies to Republicans.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:45 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I'm convinced that Twitter's management are fascist sympathizers.

That's the thing, they're not fascist sympathizers, they just don't care about controlling their platform. More users == more money. To ascribe it to fascist motivations misses the true empty indifference they have.

Twitter is absolutely the worst (or most effective depending on your outlook) platform for 'Fake News'. The sooner people just move on from it, the better our society will be. It's a product that has some fantastic uses, but it's outweighed by the negativity it enables.

Whatever he wants, even an AT&T cable modem. He just needs to sign up with Cloudflare to provide most of the actual bandwidth.

I'm positive Cloudfare isn't going to cache all his video content for free, it's a prohibitively expensive thing to do. The edge cache they have works great for static HTML, but it's not a video provider and the terms of service actually forbids this. He's going to have a serious problem replacing youtube.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 10:46 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


Imagine the vast cesspit that would form if Fox News ran a Facebook clone, banned links from the clone to everything Trump calls fake news, and added a simple way for right-wing Facebook subscribers to close their Facebook accounts and import them into the clone just by clicking "I'm Deplorable.

This is Facebook. Right now. You don’t need to block CNN and MSNBC and actual news sites when the deplorables just won’t believe them, or when Breitbart and Fox and www.therealtruthaboutkillary.com can just crowd them out in people’s heads without a software solution.
posted by Etrigan at 10:47 AM on August 6 [8 favorites]


Yay for Spotify, but I'm not rushing to sign back up just yet.

In the meantime, where can I give my $9.95 to support the Sandy Hook families and get Alex Jones into bankruptcy?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:47 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


That's the thing, they're not fascist sympathizers, they just don't care about controlling their platform.

Funny how they seem to care about POCs and women posting “Ugh. Go play in traffic.” when the fashy dudebros threaten to swat them, though.
posted by Etrigan at 10:49 AM on August 6 [39 favorites]


Whatever he wants, even an AT&T cable modem. He just needs to sign up with Cloudflare to provide most of the actual bandwidth.

Didn't Stormfront shut down because it couldn't pay for hosting costs?
posted by JamesBay at 10:50 AM on August 6


Funny how they seem to care about POCs and women posting “Ugh. Go play in traffic.” when the fashy dudebros threaten to swat them, though.

It's funny because you hear the exact same complaints from the Alt-Right. A certain percentage of people are going to get caught up in automated anti-abuse algorithms that run at scale, that doesn't mean that Twitter on-whole is in political alignment with your enemies.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 10:51 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Right wing discovers the free market.
posted by cj_ at 10:55 AM on August 6


Silenced all his life.

One can but dream.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:56 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Didn't Stormfront shut down because it couldn't pay for hosting costs?

WFM, site seems to be up.
posted by rhizome at 10:57 AM on August 6


Twitter has declared Trump's tweets "newsworthy" and therefore okay. As long as you make violent threats on a sufficiently vast scale, Twitter will let you do it.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:58 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


That's the thing, they're not fascist sympathizers, they just don't care about controlling their platform.

What’s the difference? To quote a band I’m SURE they adore, “If you choose not to decide / You still have made a choice”
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:59 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


What’s the difference? To quote a band I’m SURE they adore, “If you choose not to decide / You still have made a choice”

One directly supports fascism as an ideological ally, and one just enables it through apathy and indifference. I mean, the outcome is pretty similar, but I think the distinction is important.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:02 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


It's funny because you hear the exact same complaints from the Alt-Right. A certain percentage of people are going to get caught up in automated anti-abuse algorithms that run at scale, that doesn't mean that Twitter on-whole is in political alignment with your enemies.

You are ignorant about how Twitter works. In other countries (than the US), they have no problem banning white nationalist groups. This is not a technical issue.
posted by dilaudid at 11:05 AM on August 6 [45 favorites]


Funny how they seem to care about POCs and women posting “Ugh. Go play in traffic.” when the fashy dudebros threaten to swat them, though.

It's funny because you hear the exact same complaints from the Alt-Right.


Yeah, the side that lies about literally everything is definitely just as aggrieved by the last major social media site to take any action against Alex Fucking Jones. Pinterest has banned Alex Jones. Pinterest. And Alex Jones is complaining about it, right now, on Twitter.

I don't think we get to give them the slightest iota of a benefit of the doubt anymore. Twitter. Likes. Fascists. I don't know whether they find them amusing, or financially rewarding, but they are actively protecting them now.
posted by Etrigan at 11:05 AM on August 6 [49 favorites]




I can't find the link right now, but last night, I read an article about Jones' salad days in Austin broadcasting in the 90s. The author interviewed a number of people who knew him at the time.

I was in Austin during this time and while I didn't know Jones I knew people that did. We ran in just-barely overlapping circles and we shared a coke dealer.
posted by item at 11:13 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]




Once every year or so I use the "Fuck Shit Up" Chrome Extension. It's important to choose what article you want to randomly insert "fucking"s and "fuck"s into. This article was the right choice for this year. I laughed so hard I scared my co-workers.
posted by papercake at 11:15 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


One directly supports fascism as an ideological ally, and one just enables it through apathy and indifference.

Sure, one does. But we’re talking about Twitter providing a platform with millions of users. Even if we give management the benefit of the doubt despite all evidence to the contrary, apathy is direct aid and abeyance.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:16 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


You are ignorant about how Twitter works. In other countries (than the US), they have no problem banning white nationalist groups. This is not a technical issue.

Actually, I'm really familiar with how Twitter works, thanks. No one said it was a technical issue, it's certainly a political issue. But to be clear, the actions you describe are the result of legislation in the countries in-which Twitter operates in, like NetzDG in Germany. The United States does not have federal hate speech laws, and so therefore Twitter does not have any law to conform to when it comes to deleting speech like it does in Germany or other EU countries. Same reason why Twitter users in Europe gets GDPR protections, and we in the US are stuck with privacy from 1999.

I don't think we get to give them the slightest iota of a benefit of the doubt anymore. Twitter. Likes. Fascists. I don't know whether they find them amusing, or financially rewarding, but they are actively protecting them now.

I'm sure it feels good to think this, but the reality is more complicated than you make it. If Twitter truly was in bed with the Alt-Right like you claim, they could easily amplify the bullshit that already exists on their platform to deafening levels.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:17 AM on August 6 [7 favorites]


One directly supports fascism as an ideological ally, and one just enables it through apathy and indifference.

Driving the monkey to the airport.
posted by valkane at 11:19 AM on August 6


No one said it was a technical issue

A certain percentage of people are going to get caught up in automated anti-abuse algorithms that run at scale

Actually, I'm really familiar with how Twitter works

Are you an employee of Twitter?
posted by dilaudid at 11:20 AM on August 6 [7 favorites]


Man, I really think that banishing crazy trolls to the dungeon is a good way to build a horrifying dungeon, but cutting of Alex Jones is just sound bar keeping.
posted by es_de_bah at 11:20 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Are you an employee of Twitter?

No, but I'm a cloud platform developer with about 20 years of distributed systems experience
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:21 AM on August 6


But to be clear, the actions you describe are the result of legislation in the countries in-which Twitter operates in, like NetzDG in Germany. The United States does not have federal hate speech laws, and so therefore Twitter does not have any law to conform to when it comes to deleting speech like it does in Germany or other EU countries. Same reason why Twitter users in Europe gets GDPR protections, and we in the US are stuck with privacy from 1999.

Yes, but just like corporations could voluntarily limit their invasions of privacy as a matter of decency (and to build customer trust) and choose not to, Twitter could use the algorithms it developed for NetzDG compliance to enforce its self-imposed policies against hate speech, threats, etc. -- and chooses not to.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:22 AM on August 6 [18 favorites]




Big Tech banning a conspiracy theorist makes him look as if he had a point to his followers. That said Big Tech firms have had very bad publicity this year violating privacy rights of people, just adds to his credibility with his followers.

The news plays great with people on the Left, but it enables people on the Right into thinking Jones is being silenced because he is correct in his theories. It has just reinforced the narrative as he reaps free publicity most A-listers would kill for that dovetails perfectly with what he preaches. He couldn't have asked for a better turn than being shut out by Big Tech at this stage of the game.

And if people splinter politically and ideologically in big enough numbers, I can very easily see social media platforms being created to pander to various ideologues. There is too much money to be made not to do it. Here is the rallying point.

For people who don't like him, they weren't exposing themselves to that dreck. For people who do, this won't change their minds or discourage them one bit.

Too bad we don't question why people like that get attention and platforms to spew, while people who have something to actually contribute get trampled over and ignored -- and then change the focus once and for all.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:27 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


Can we drop the semantic argument over "Twitter's reasons for inaction matter" vs. "Twitter's reasons for inaction don't matter"? The relevance or lack thereof depends on what question you're trying to answer. If the question is "should Twitter ban Alex Jones?", or "does Twitter suck for not banning Alex Jones?", then the distinction doesn't matter – because, yes, they should, and yes, they do, regardless of their reasons. If the question is "how might we persuade Twitter to ban Alex Jones?", or "what can Twitter's inaction teach use about the forces that enable fascism?", then the distinction arguably does matter.

Either way, we're all in agreement that Alex Jones sucks and Twitter should ban him.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:27 AM on August 6 [10 favorites]


Note that these companies didn't just wake up this week and grow a conscience. People complained. Customers threatened to cancel their service. Change requires action, even the tiniest of actions like writing an email to a company.
posted by coffee and minarets at 11:27 AM on August 6 [19 favorites]


One directly supports fascism as an ideological ally, and one just enables it through apathy and indifference. I mean, the outcome is pretty similar, but I think the distinction is important.

You know what you call the white stuff in bird shit?

That's bird shit too.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:27 AM on August 6 [31 favorites]


Alexandra Kitty: The upshot to Facebook, YouTube, et. al. banning Alex Jones is that it makes it that much harder for his mind-viruses to infect more people. The damage has been done, but this is at least something to help contain it.
posted by SansPoint at 11:28 AM on August 6 [16 favorites]


Twitter is absolutely the worst (or most effective depending on your outlook) platform for 'Fake News'. The sooner people just move on from it, the better our society will be. It's a product that has some fantastic uses, but it's outweighed by the negativity it enables.

I think one of the worst aspects of twitter is that it's treated uncritically as a vox populi by mainstream news sources that should know better. So you get ugly feedback loops of whatever is trending.

Satellite radio? I have little doubt that someone will pick up the bill for distributing him. Ars ran an op-ed that censuring a guy who has habitually committed libel and ducked consequences with "satire" and "entertainment" constitutes a slippery slope. I don't buy that the slope is that slippery in putting down consequences in this case, and I don't buy that Jones is a "crackpot," just the latest in a long history of right-wing propaganda tools.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:29 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


"People like us" aren't the ones making Twitter money. They are used to amplify propaganda by many governments. They are used as a platform for bots. These are their real customers. Complaining to them is useless because they aren't interested in being a platform for human beings.
posted by dilaudid at 11:30 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Yes, but just like corporations could voluntarily limit their invasions of privacy as a matter of decency (and to build customer trust) and choose not to, Twitter could use the algorithms it developed for NetzDG compliance to enforce its self-imposed policies against hate speech, threats, etc. -- and chooses not to.

Sure, corporations could also be really nice and give out bonuses to their employees from the Trump Tax Give Away rather than buy back stock, but you and I both know that's not going to happen. There is a reason these companies are compelled by law to do it in the EU - because they wouldn't otherwise. Similar regulation in the US needs to exist before any action will happen in the private sector. Unless the market does a 180 and investors stay away from companies like Twitter for ethical reasons (good luck) nothing is going to change. I think it's pretty obvious these companies can't really self-regulate.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:31 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Mock Elon Musk and Twitter will come down on you in a heartbeat, there is absolutely more they could do in terms of automation and traffic analysis. They just like Nazis more than everybody else.
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on August 6 [23 favorites]


Win or Lose, the Alex Jones Lawsuit Will Help Redefine Free Speech (Emma Grey Ellis for Wired, Aug. 6, 2018)
In 1964, the Supreme Court heard the case of a Montgomery Public Safety commissioner who felt defamed by an ad in The New York Times that claimed the police departments he supervised had arrested Martin Luther King Jr. seven times. (Really they’d just arrested King four times.) In the resulting case, New York Times v. Sullivan, the court bestowed special status to public officials like the commissioner: Defamation would require “actual malice,” a knowingly false statement in “reckless disregard” of the truth. This high bar was a way of protecting the First Amendment-guaranteed right to speak openly about those in power.

Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. added a new wrinkle in the form of another type of public figure—a “limited-purpose public figure,” who also required the high bar of malice. Jones claims that by entering the public debates on misinformation and gun control, De La Rosa and Pozner occupy this second group. (De La Rosa has advocated for an assault rifle ban, and Pozner founded a nonprofit devoted to fighting misinformation.)

This is where the context of the internet starts to matter. The law assumes a narrow notion of fame—not a world where a YouTube channel’s following can rival a media company’s and the parents of a slain child can instantly become household names. “The First Amendment is a legal tool … crafted in a particular time to deal with particular media environments,” says Neil Richards, a First Amendment expert at the University of Washington Law School. “Our libel model is one that envisions establishment media and a bunch of people gossiping. It doesn’t envision social media.”

Do Pozner and De La Rosa count as limited-purpose public figures? Maybe. “Arguments have been made that in the digital world, you can be a public figure in the context of a particular videogame,” says Sandra Baron, a resident fellow at Yale Law School. “Even if no one outside that community would have ever heard of you.” So the Sandy Hook parents’ #activism may qualify them by making them well known in gun control circles, while public moves like founding nonprofits would only cement that status.
Luckily, Alex Jones hasn't only targeted parents of the Sandy Hook victims, but this is an interesting article.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:31 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


It’s demonstrable behavior that’s been repeatedly observed.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]



Either way, we're all in agreement that Alex Jones sucks and Twitter should ban him.

that's not entirely clear here in at least one case.
posted by some loser at 11:36 AM on August 6


I don't think we get to give them the slightest iota of a benefit of the doubt anymore. Twitter. Likes. Fascists. I don't know whether they find them amusing, or financially rewarding, but they are actively protecting them now.

I'm sure it feels good to think this, but the reality is more complicated than you make it. If Twitter truly was in bed with the Alt-Right like you claim, they could easily amplify the bullshit that already exists on their platform to deafening levels.


You don't think there are degrees of "likes" and "in bed with"? That there aren't people who are would never march in the streets screaming about "mud people", but also wish that no one would ever roll their eyes and say "Whatever, Becky"? That's the whole point of the alt-right. They have manuals about moving young disaffected online men from "I wish I had a girlfriend?" to "The blacks are taking our white women!" Richard Spencer tries to look respectable and self-effacing and humorous precisely because he wants people to argue about whether he's really a Nazi.

So imagine that Twitter has access to all of that fever swamp, from every angle; that they have seen it grow and pushed back to the exact minimum legally mandated degree where required; that they have been begged by some of its most famous users... and they still just throw up their collective hands and say, "Well, it's a tough call, whaddaya gonna do?" It's not complicated anymore. It's been a damn while since it was complicated and it needed to be finely parsed about just exactly whether Twitter likes fascists or likes-likes fascists.
posted by Etrigan at 11:37 AM on August 6 [30 favorites]


There is a reason these companies are compelled by law to do it in the EU - because they wouldn't otherwise. Similar regulation in the US needs to exist before any action will happen in the private sector.

Isn't the whole point of this thread that several of these private US companies (Twitter being a notable exception) just did exactly that?
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:37 AM on August 6 [13 favorites]


The Elon Musk deletions are very real. There are now a series of joke accounts popping up with "Elon Musk" in the name just to measure how long it takes them to get shut down.
posted by tofu_crouton at 11:38 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


how is numerous people reporting that they've seen a thing happen an "echo chamber"
posted by poffin boffin at 11:39 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]




Isn't the whole point of this thread that several of these private US companies (Twitter being a notable exception) just did exactly that?

Do you really trust Facebook, et all to self-regulate when it comes to stuff like this? It seems like some have come around in this instance after like years of shit like Pizza Gate and Sandy Hook Trutherism, but WTF took them so long? It's the consistent negative media attention that prompted a move, not someone finally discovering some corporate ethics.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:42 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


All the problems with Twitter blocking fake Elon Musk accounts

There’s a claim that it’s scam related, not Musk related, in which case fine, use the alleged spam prevention technology to fight nazis.
posted by Artw at 11:42 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


If it's not in their nature to self-regulate, and they need to be pressured, why are you spending so much time splitting hairs to say that no, Twitter isn't actually that bad, and we shouldn't focus on them?
posted by sagc at 11:44 AM on August 6 [10 favorites]


mods please clarify if anyone in this thread is elon musk
posted by poffin boffin at 11:46 AM on August 6 [25 favorites]


I'm Elon Musk!
posted by SansPoint at 11:47 AM on August 6


If it's not in their nature to self-regulate, and they need to be pressured, why are you spending so much time splitting hairs to say that no, Twitter isn't actually that bad, and we shouldn't focus on them?

What are you talking about? I don't think anyone should use Twitter, and the sooner we move on from it the better we'll be. I just don't think they're all card carrying White Nationalists and to act as if they are is missing the point.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:48 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]


Do you really trust Facebook, et all to self-regulate when it comes to stuff like this?

No, but I also don't give them a pass for not taking action simply because all the applicable laws have yet to be put in place.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:49 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I just don't think they're all card carrying White Nationalists and to act as if they are is missing the point.

This all started with you saying they're not "fascist sympathizers". Then that they weren't "in bed with the Alt-Right". Now they're not "card carrying White Nationalists". Maybe look behind you at all those old goalposts and ask yourself why you're expending so much effort here and in defense of what cause.
posted by Etrigan at 11:55 AM on August 6 [42 favorites]


Well, they're either white nationalist sympathizers or acting indistinguishably from same - Trying to figure out all the reasons they're only *incidentally* poor actors seems like a weird derail, especially since the consequences of their behaviour are obvious to everyone. It's not like Twitter management can't look at the news/read user reports/simply use their own service to figure out who they're defending, be it witting or unwittingly.

And if they are being willfully blind - it's hard to see how they aren't - how can you defend that?
posted by sagc at 11:56 AM on August 6 [6 favorites]


This all started with you saying they're not "fascist sympathizers". Then that they weren't "in bed with the Alt-Right". Now they're not "card carrying White Nationalists". Maybe look behind you at all those old goalposts and ask yourself why you're expending so much effort here and in defense of what cause.

May you do the same and better understand why you're so insistent that they are in fact 'Actual Nazis' who believe in tenants of White Nationalism, and not just a bunch of apathetic rich people looking not to rock the boat.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:59 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]


escape from the potato planet I can't find the link right now, but last night, I read an article about Jones' salad days in Austin broadcasting in the 90s. The author interviewed a number of people who knew him at the time. By all accounts, the real Alex Jones is every bit as bellicose and erratic as the on-the-air Alex Jones.

Possibly something written by Jon Ronson? Ronson's "The Secret Rulers of the World" was my first exposure to Jones. That was back in May 2001 before Jones was a nut with a national platform.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:06 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


May you do the same and better understand why you're so insistent that they are in fact 'Actual Nazis' who believe in tenants of White Nationalism, and not just a bunch of apathetic rich people looking not to rock the boat.

'Cos @jack allows the verification of and follows the accounts of multiple white supremacists? There's at least some degree of sympathy for them at the top that goes beyond accidentally supporting them via some policy of even handedness.
posted by Artw at 12:07 PM on August 6 [22 favorites]


And surprise surprise surprise The_Donald hosts a stickied mid-day megathread to discuss "Communist-style" tech censorship instead of the rights of corporations and the free market.

They also apparently recently claimed that Charlottesville was a fifth column agitprop action. After originally directly promoting it and sticky-ing the megathread for it.
posted by loquacious at 12:11 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


This isn't a matter of "they're calling balls and strikes and I think they should be actively acting against fascists". Twitter punishes people who push back against fascists (and lately TERFs) with a vigor and harshness they do not apply to fascists. The ground is not level and the ref is not neutral.

Also, this:
Big Tech banning a conspiracy theorist makes him look as if he had a point to his followers. That said Big Tech firms have had very bad publicity this year violating privacy rights of people, just adds to his credibility with his followers.
...does not matter at all. As Alexandra Erin is fond of saying, you cannot deny ammunition to a bullet factory. Alex Jones and his fellow travelers take their feelings of grievance and persecution to be the core of their being. Grievance is their objective and first principle, not a product of their being denied something they want. If you try to appease them by not giving them anything to be upset about, they will invent something.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:15 PM on August 6 [43 favorites]


Most of the fake Elons I've seen have half Etherium crap in their timelines.
posted by rhizome at 12:15 PM on August 6


Also, as mentioned, choosing not to take sides is making a choice. If your boat is full of Nazis and you still don't want to rock it, that sounds an awful lot like being okay with Nazis doing their thing (i.e. extermination of non-Nazis) in your boat.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:20 PM on August 6 [13 favorites]


A lot of people are saying Jones engineered his banning himself in order to get laws passed to protect his right to tell the truth. Sort of a “false flag” operation.

I mean, look who gives money to Apple and YouTube and what they have to gain. Im not saying Alex Jones isn’t a victim here, it’s just that a lot of people are coming forward saying they were paid actors to get Jones banned.

I’m just asking questions here.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:26 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


Also, as mentioned, choosing not to take sides is making a choice. If your boat is full of Nazis and you still don't want to rock it, that sounds an awful lot like being okay with Nazis doing their thing (i.e. extermination of non-Nazis) in your boat.

Only if you're six and the world if filled with right and wrong and zero complexity or external factors. This is 'They hate us for our freedom' levels of trite.

I agree that Nazis Are Bad and Twitter is enabling them, but I don't believe that Twitter management are therefore themselves secret Nazis, just that their economic interests are aligned with not stopping them on their platform. I think we need legislation to do that, which in the past hasn't really been a controversial liberal position; regulation is a good thing.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:27 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


I agree that Nazis Are Bad and Twitter is enabling them, but I don't believe that Twitter management are therefore themselves secret Nazis, just that their economic interests are aligned with not stopping them on their platform.

I know I'm stealing this from someone, but I don't know who, and Google isn't helping:
There's a word in German for people who just went along with the Nazis because their economic interests were aligned: Nazis
posted by Etrigan at 12:32 PM on August 6 [52 favorites]


Everybody here agrees that, yes, it seems like Twitter isn't going to do anything until compelled by law to do so. We're also saying, though, that maybe that's not the best way to judge morality! My economic position is aligned with all sorts of reprehensible things, but as an rational actor myself, I can, in fact, choose not to immediately default to the most-evil, most-profitable option.
posted by sagc at 12:32 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Traditionally, publishers, distributors, and sponsors have been a key check on egregious fuckery by pundits.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:37 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I agree that Nazis Are Bad and Twitter is enabling them, but I don't believe that Twitter management are therefore themselves secret Nazis

I'm not sure why it's a binary descriptor, e.g., "Nazis / Not-Nazis".

It's more plausible to consider that Twitter management (and Facebook, Google, etc) is "white supremacist."

White supremacy doesn't mean you secretly wear KKK robes or overtly wear a toilet seat on your head at a Portland rally with 'KEK' emblazoned on your t-shirt.

American culture is fundamentally white supremacist. Twitter is a fundamentally American company. There are plenty of murderously bad stages to get to before you become a Nazi.
posted by JamesBay at 12:42 PM on August 6 [17 favorites]


Everybody here agrees that, yes, it seems like Twitter isn't going to do anything until compelled by law to do so. We're also saying, though, that maybe that's not the best way to judge morality! My economic position is aligned with all sorts of reprehensible things, but as an rational actor myself, I can, in fact, choose not to immediately default to the most-evil, most-profitable option

You are not a publicly traded company with a board of directors and shareholders and all the fun stuff that comes along with that. You can't pretend that these externalities do not exist and 'morality' is the only choice in play. Of course Twitter is not a 'moral' company, I don't think anyone who's been awake for the past few years would disagree with that. They're a profoundly immoral company.

Traditionally, publishers, distributors, and sponsors have been a key check on egregious fuckery by pundits.

Unfortunately, the long-tail of the internet has eroded that guardianship to a great degree. If you don't like what the Adults tell you, you can go find someone out there to agree with.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:42 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


@garyjkings Info Wars getting banned from everywhere. At this rate they'll have to set up a Steam page.
posted by Artw at 12:48 PM on August 6 [16 favorites]


Obviously there's other considerations than morality! But, as Facebook/Google/Pinterest have proven, you can ban neo-nazis without going bankrupt. Which brings us back to the question of why Twitter is so special - if they have a business model that requires a fascist contingent on the platform, what sort of conclusion can you draw from that?
posted by sagc at 12:49 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


You are not a publicly traded company with a board of directors and shareholders and all the fun stuff that comes along with that. You can't pretend that these externalities do not exist

I can pretend they don't exist. Watch me pretend they don't exist. Twitter's management is a black box and I'm not a board member. All I *have* to care about is whether they act in a moral manner. And they don't.
posted by dilaudid at 12:52 PM on August 6 [10 favorites]


But, as Facebook/Google/Pinterest have proven, you can ban neo-nazis without going bankrupt.

They banned Alex Jones literally today. They profited off him for years until it became untenable to do so, for whatever reason. Let's not pretend Facebook and Google got 'woke' this morning and suddenly developed a moral compass. If the the tides continue to shift I think we'll see Twitter hop on the bandwagon, but they way things have been I'm not holding my breath.

I can pretend they don't exist. Watch me pretend they don't exist. Twitter's management is a black box and I'm not a board member. All I *have* to care about is whether they act in a moral manner. And they don't.

Great, then don't buy stock and don't use the product. But over here the real world it still exists and it's still a concern.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:55 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


If your company cannot exist without giving aid and comfort to fascists then it is imperative for your company to stop existing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:58 PM on August 6 [42 favorites]


Everybody yells at Twitter but Amazon sells hate literature (George Lincoln Rockwell's many works, "why Jews are evil" monographs, etc. etc. bleeecccch) under their PRIME program, ffs.

If you can blithely profit from trafficking Nazi literature - and Jeff Bezos certainly is -- then why not just pimp the hate lit on the front page, Amazon? Show us who you are.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:58 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


No, but I'm a cloud platform developer with about 20 years of distributed systems experience

Great. I’m a Jew and they’re fucking fascists.
posted by maxsparber at 12:59 PM on August 6 [50 favorites]


I can pretend they don't exist. Watch me pretend they don't exist. Twitter's management is a black box and I'm not a board member. All I *have* to care about is whether they act in a moral manner. And they don't.

Great, then don't buy stock and don't use the product. But over here the real world it still exists and it's still a concern.


What even is your point here? Your comments in this thread do not make any sense. Do you support twitter's stance on white supremacy or not? Do you think that there's anything users of a service can do to affect the provision of that service? Do you think that public opinion can ever change the actions of a public company? What is your position? What is your point? You have yet to make any in this thread other than essentially "everyone who is talking about this should stop."
posted by melissasaurus at 1:00 PM on August 6 [23 favorites]


We've had over a century with publicly traded entertainment and news companies dumping their worst cranks into a slushpile. For a publisher to have business interests in addition to editorial interests is not a new problem.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:01 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


@jacknicas
A Twitter spokesman has gotten back to us to say Alex Jones and Infowars do not currently violate Twitter's rules.
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


Artw: Quelle surprise.
posted by SansPoint at 1:08 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


And it's demonstrably true that these platforms lose customers/subscribers when harassment and hate speech are tolerated. But apparently we just don't matter as long as twitter, facebook, and google can attempt to monetize the drama.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:10 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


My one step plan to fix Twitter: delete every verified account
posted by theodolite at 1:11 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


[FidelCashflow, your points are made, let them stand instead of repeating yourself over and over. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:11 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


stupidsexyflanders: There's a line between selling hate literature, and allowing someone to deliberately spew hate on your platform with a megaphone. I wouldn't blink if I saw a copy of Mein Kampf or a George Lincoln Rockwell treatise in the library or at Barnes and Noble. (Though I would hope any library or B&N would be stocking copies that are presented in an academic context that criticizes their hateful nature.) Meanwhile, I would get very testy and very punchy if someone stood on the street-corner spewing those same ideas into a bullhorn. And I would be even more bothered if those we entrust with the responsibility of keeping the peace did nothing, or even took the side of the hatemongers, as Twitter does.
posted by SansPoint at 1:14 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


Thought experiment: how would public life be different if Trump's Twitter account was banned?

At what point? Odds are he'd gotten wacked across the nose a couple of times and he'd spent some coin in ads and it would have been all good as far as Twitter is concerned. And if he'd have been too cheap to pay for ads back in the apprentince days - he'd lost interest.

Alex Jones from creating his own media platform to distribute his content rather than using Facebook or iTunes, and asking "why doesn't he start such a platform and let the free market decide?"

He did - infowars.com.

And, for better or worse, the youtube and the FaceBook have won in the content presentation marketplace. I have a better sense of the "stickyness" of Facebook having watched people who can get 10:1 views to action (on facebook) get about 5000:1 action to another platform and no noticeable action in meatspace.

The followers who were willing to pay for access will keep paying him. The people who quote Alex about used wal-marts as detention centers will still keep quoting him and ignore Muckrock's FOIA releases on the subject. And that relative who keeps mailing you his stuff so you stop being a sheep will still happen.

But the casual stuff won't be shared. The gardenhose of content for the people who stay in those walled gardens will be, at most, drip irrigation.

And smile - he's gonna have to pay for the transit of his content now VS the $0 cost transit the big players like Google get.

I just hope the gems like DMT stick around as I still want to hear how Alex knows the truth of Elves. Cuz he only shares what he can prove. Like the vampires. (Joe's voice sounds like trolling. And his face at 2 mins in. Joe's at the top of this new medium for a reason.)
posted by rough ashlar at 1:16 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I follow an Illinois and Chicago history page on facebook (Living History of Illinois and Chicago) where the admin has zero tolerance for racism. The 5th of this month was Barrack Obama day in Illinois.

An admin posted this:
"The administrators banned 30 (13% of all comments) members from the group in 1 day, from the "Barack Obama Day" post, for their lack of personal control by commenting in a manner that is against the posted group "Zero Tolerance Policy." What does that mean? Those people can no longer find or see our public group on Facebook because of their own actions.

NOTE: The Obama Day post had ZERO political commentary, and in fact is Illinois History as the Holiday law passed in 2017.

For the members who questioned in some respect, why? The group hosts Junior (6th, 7th & 8th grades) and Senior High School history and social studies classes, including teachers and educators. BE AWARE that members who are banned from this group for violating our "Zero Tolerance Policy" will be called out by name in the group stating why they were banned. This action keeps with my personal promise to teachers, educators, and school district superintendents I made to keep the group safe for 13+ year old children."
I just wish the ban declaration could also somehow show up on there facebook feed for all their friends and family to see.
posted by srboisvert at 1:21 PM on August 6 [23 favorites]


" Facebook would be better for it but Facebook-with-a-goatee would be a scary incubator of weird things.
We have that, it’s called Reddit.


seen.is/seen.life Its WAS called seen.is (or seen.life) And goatee twitter is gab.ai (the frog head logo should be a give away)
posted by rough ashlar at 1:26 PM on August 6


Twitter's under a lot more pressure than the others; they haven't managed to monetize in the way that FB, youtube and spotify have, and are seeing a plateau in usage that suggests they aren't going to be taking over the whole world in the way that the unicornTech investors would hope. So I would guess there's one part free speech fundamentalism amongst the leadership, and one part questioning whether lost alt-right users would actually be offset by people who have been driven off the platform by the offright. (Though honestly, I'm not even sure they have enough awareness to think of both sides of that coin; maybe just concerned about losing the fascists...)

So, yeah, I would solidly class them as 'people who are economically aligned with Nazis' as it was put above...
posted by kaibutsu at 1:45 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Alex Jones from creating his own media platform to distribute his content rather than using Facebook or iTunes, and asking "why doesn't he start such a platform and let the free market decide?"

He did - infowars.com.


Lucky for him that ISPs can't prevent access to his site due to net neutrality.

Oh, wait ...
posted by JackFlash at 1:57 PM on August 6


Twitter has declared Trump's tweets "newsworthy" and therefore okay. As long as you make violent threats on a sufficiently vast scale, Twitter will let you do it.

I maintain my belief that if Twitter wants to support "newsworthiness" while still applying some semblance of its TOS, they could allow the POTUS45 account to post anything it wants, and block his personal account.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:14 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


It's basically impossible to tell what goes on behind closed doors at Twitter unless you're there or someone leaks, but it doesn't take a lot of creativity to imagine them being, um, quite concerned about what happens if they suddenly aren't the place to go for controversy and hot takes and basically the modern culture's equivalent of Hyde Park. I'm not even sure they know how they got to be in the position they're in. Hell, a good portion of stuff that we associate with the Twitter platform wasn't really designed at the beginning, it just sort of emerged from the user swamp as a thing people were doing, and then someone coded it up and reified it as a part of the platform. (E.g. #tags and @ notation were emergent behaviors that people started doing on their own, and then the software started to support it. URL shortening as well, although it's an abomination.)

Their corporate culture, at least externally-facing, seems to be one part free-speech absolutism and another part just a very laissez faire attitude (putting it mildly) towards top-down community standards.

If the 2016 election hadn't gone the way it did, I think there would have been a reckoning—their metrics were starting to soften and people were starting to ask questions about profitability... but then Trump showed up and now Twitter is the place to go if you want to argue about politics, see and be seen, whatever the appeal might be.

Given that they may in fact owe their continued relevance to the alt-right, I'm not sure it's reasonable to assume that they are ever going to correct what people (almost exclusively) outside the alt-right perceive as problems.

It wouldn't be hard for them to take the same attitude towards emergent behaviors that led them to code in hashtag-based indexing as a first class feature, and apply it to (say) community/shared blocklists, which have emerged through the same bottom-up process as a feature lots of people would like. But no, they've decided their strategy is to try to ride the tiger, and they're not going to do anything that alienates the hardcore asshole part of their userbase.

Personally, I hope the tiger eats them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:17 PM on August 6 [15 favorites]


This argument about whether or not Twitter is white supremacist, or if there are fascist sympathizers on their board is about the least interesting aspect of this whole issue.


Twitter enables white supremacists and fascists. They need to stop. That's all that needs to be said on the matter.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:30 PM on August 6 [18 favorites]


Lucky for him that ISPs can't prevent access to his site due to net neutrality.
Oh, wait ...


It's almost like the youngsters today don't invision any world beyond IP traffic.

My memory was the infowars model was 'pay a fee to hear MP3 or catch me live on the radio' before the move to selling survival toilet paper or whatever he's selling. If he's still paying for time on shortwave - and it appears he is the banning is just something for him to be outraged about but not some kind of fatal blow. (damn. GCN has Kaku? Huh. )

The web makes it look like Alex was or still is on Sirius XM.

As long as shortwave -> MP3 -> bittorrent exist Alex's voice will make it to the internet. Same with the "listen by phone" -> MP3 datapath.

This, so far, is not like stormfront. But, I did see cloudflare as part of the infowars.com content display. So those of you who are invested in this or have pull with cloudflare - start asking cloudflare for a public position.


(huh. Stormfront dot org DOES work. And sure looks like what one would expect. )
posted by rough ashlar at 2:47 PM on August 6


I would guess there's one part free speech fundamentalism amongst the leadership,

The definition of free - speech fundamentalism is "White men get to say whatever they want, and if someone who isn't a white man disagrees in the wrong way, they get banned."
posted by happyroach at 2:57 PM on August 6 [13 favorites]




Alex Jones on porn sites? Alex Jones on Pintrest?

What the hell auto-social-media posting software is he using?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:16 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Nazis Are Bad and Twitter is enabling them

This is what tons of people mean when they say that Twitter are fascist sympathizers.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:16 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


Dude's been fighting "info wars" for years, somebody finally fought back.
posted by edheil at 3:22 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


But, I did see cloudflare as part of the infowars.com content display. So those of you who are invested in this or have pull with cloudflare - start asking cloudflare for a public position.

Cloudflare's position has been "we have to work with terrorists and hate mongers because free speech".
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:28 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Dude's been fighting "info wars" for years, somebody finally fought back.

He's not the only one who's out there. https://knowledgefight.com/ looks like they've been looking into the Alex back catalogue. Bonus - project camelot.


In case ya'll don't have time to do such :-)
posted by rough ashlar at 3:30 PM on August 6


Porn is an apt point of comparison for this.

Also I like to tell my right-wing acquaintances that talk radio is a form of pornography used for taking sinful pleasure from hating your enemies.
posted by straight at 3:33 PM on August 6 [10 favorites]


Stormfront is still around and has never been banned. The Daily Stormer, however, lost several hosts and Cloudflare protection.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:50 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Aha, that's what I was thinking of... thanks.
posted by JamesBay at 3:53 PM on August 6


I was lookin' at a popular hosted porn video website the other day and... For a friend of course... And I came across an episode of Morgan Freeman's TV series In Search Of God.

Which kinda surprised me and I had to watch a little bit of it just to see if it wasn't a parody or some sort of clever edit, but nope. It was just an episode of Morgan Freeman In Search Of God on a hosted video porn site. As expected there were a handful of comments playing along with with the notion.

So I mean, I guess that's a thing? Where people just post non-porn related videos on porn sites? I guess.
posted by glonous keming at 3:55 PM on August 6


Can I assume there are a metric crapton of videos about cryptocurrency on porn sites, too?
posted by duffell at 4:10 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


glonous keming: Porn tube sites tend to be very... lax... about copyright infringement. And unless you're a porn studio, you're probably not going to be having people check the porn tube sites to see if they're infringing on your copyright.

As an anecdote, there's a music video by a band I like that's based around a parody of an amateur sex tape (with actual sexual intercourse in it), so the only place you can watch it is PornHub.
posted by SansPoint at 4:14 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Re: PornHub, see also InRangeTV. (Looks like their PornHub channel is a little behind YouTube, for whatever reason, but it's definitely still active.)
posted by tobascodagama at 5:35 PM on August 6


So I mean, I guess that's a thing? Where people just post non-porn related videos on porn sites? I guess.

Yep. If you wanted to find new mainstream content for free (say, outside of region locks) without mucking about with bittorrent or private tracker sites, the place to look for years now has been porn sites because they tend to be slow taking things down, and DMCA bots probably aren't that good at finding mis-tagged copies of Westworld or Rick and Morty on PornHub.

For some strange reason there's even tons of classic cartoons and stuff on porn sites. People do the weirdest shit with their internet connections and time.
posted by loquacious at 6:05 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Huh. I've never once run across non-porn on the gay side of the tube/hub sites.
posted by AFABulous at 6:14 PM on August 6


You kinda have to look for the non-porn stuff. It isn’t linked or keyworded from the porn, so you’re less likely to just stumble across it.
posted by Etrigan at 6:47 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


How is this good news?

Edit: other than having fascists declare themselves as such, I mean.
posted by cmastro at 7:22 PM on August 6




No one voted for Apple or Facebook to beam Alex Jones directly into our parents' phones, either.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:44 PM on August 6 [28 favorites]


How do the Jonesers overlap with the Hobby Lobbyists and other principled defenders of a corporation's right to deny business to people under the guise of bigotry 'religious freedom'?
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 10:35 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


It’s a good thing FB/Apple/Spotify banned Alex Jones. Not because it’ll prevent him from spreading his hate — it won’t — but because it’s an example of principled people acting according to their consciences. We should always strive to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t make a difference.
posted by panama joe at 10:43 PM on August 6 [9 favorites]


It's just a frickin' editorial policy, but none of the services want to address it on those terms because they want to keep their ability to work the pole of CDA §230.
posted by rhizome at 11:11 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Two steps forward, three steps back.

Related: Facebook defends decision not to suspend Blair Cottrell over rape comments [The Guardian]
“The far-right extremist Blair Cottrell has posted on Facebook and Twitter about hypothetically raping staff members at Sky News following his weekend interview on the network, but the social media platforms have not disabled his accounts. A video excerpt of his interview on Sky News on Sunday night, conducted by the former Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles, has been removed from Facebook and Twitter after complaints by the network that it breached their copyright. [...] Blair wrote: “I might as well have raped @ljayes on the air, not only would she have been happier with that but the reaction would’ve been the same.” This tweet was deleted but Cottrell later claimed it was deleted by Twitter rather than him. Twitter has not confirmed this.”
posted by Fizz at 4:41 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


The fish people hiding in the fold-space are behind this. Mark my words.
posted by Damienmce at 5:56 AM on August 7


@davegorman
I heard a rumour that Facebook didn't really kick InfoWars off the site. Alex Jones deleted it himself. It's a false flag attack and he's just a crisis actor. Don't be fooled.
posted by Artw at 6:01 AM on August 7 [12 favorites]


As an anecdote, there's a music video by a band I like that's based around a parody of an amateur sex tape (with actual sexual intercourse in it), so the only place you can watch it is PornHub.

Rammstein is a great band, yes. But you can watch the uncensored video also on Vimeo.
posted by Pendragon at 6:20 AM on August 7


@davegorman
I heard a rumour that Facebook didn't really kick InfoWars off the site. Alex Jones deleted it himself. It's a false flag attack and he's just a crisis actor. Don't be fooled.


Oh man, the replies to that tweet... people are not getting it.
posted by duffell at 6:30 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Oh man, the replies to that tweet... people are not getting it.

It wasn't always this way but lately I've started to take the whole YouTube mantra of "don't read the comments" and I've begun applying that to twitter "don't read non-follower replies". It has made all the difference with regards to my mental health.
posted by Fizz at 6:38 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Yea he just wants to be a martyr. Youtube is convenient and it works well, but there are plenty of video hosting sites. Daily motion was a den of right-wing trolls last time I went there, and I'm sure Godtube would welcome the boost in notoriety hosting Alex would bring them.
posted by ambulocetus at 6:43 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Pendragon: Wrong band and video. I'm talking about TISM's "I Might Be A Cunt, But I'm Not A Fucking Cunt" video.
posted by SansPoint at 6:59 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Youtube is convenient and it works well, but there are plenty of video hosting sites [...] I'm sure Godtube would welcome the boost in notoriety hosting Alex would bring them.

Sure, but I somehow doubt that this 'Godtube' will be nearly as effective at pushing InfoWars content at my tween niece in the suggested videos sidebar after she watches an innocuous clip of kittens falling asleep, or whatever.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:53 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


even if it doesn’t make a difference.

But it *WILL* make a difference. Because as Larry Wall points out - people are lazy. And not being on those platforms with 75% of the population with 50% of the population showing up once a week means the data will have to be sought out. And most people won't bother to wander outside of the walled gardens.

The CC Crane radio with MP3 recorder is a niche product for the kinds of people who don't want to pay a monthy subscription yet still want to listen to some broadcasters on their time. Notice what it's called: Witness. And they don't even HAVE a shortwave to MP3 device. You have to pick a grundig or roll your own. And face it - few will bother.

The crew at knowledgefight point out the number of views for Alex stuff VS Glen Beck or others here. 10 to 20,000 youtube views is squat - assuming lifetime views. For an idea of what being a youtuber makes here. And less so if no one will buy adverts for those views. Perhaps the simple economics - dumping Alex was calculated to be better for the bottom line than keeping him - is in play here?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:11 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Getting dumped off of youtube not only means no exposure as recommended videos, it also means reduced exposure through search engines.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:03 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


So last week I gave up on reddit for good. There's no hope there. And I technically have a Twitter account that is barely used and I will probably delete after I post this comment.

But the thing is, when you let white supremacists into your parlor you have done that. Maybe free speech justifies that decision and maybe it doesn't, but the white supremacist is there and the parlor owner has to justify their presence on their own terms. Twitter's public justifications of Jones's continued presence on their site do little to convince me that someone pulling the stings does not sympathize with him at least a little bit.

But then someone pulling the strings at Twitter is a straight white man so who can really feign surprise there?
posted by East14thTaco at 12:03 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


The folks at LGM point out how tiresome the "defend hate mongers in the name of free speech" argument is:
But there’s a real obvious problem with crude slippery slope arguments, which is that Facebook is not an open forum and has never claimed to be. It explicitly bans hate speech, and it also bans other forms of speech (such as images of mere nudity) that are unquestionably protected by the First Amendment. Facebook, iTunes et al. are already curating speech; the only question is whether they will apply their pre-existing standards to Alex Jones. And, in addition, Facebook has to make decisions about what content to push and what not to push that are inevitably discretionary:
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:21 PM on August 7 [12 favorites]


Pendragon: Wrong band and video. I'm talking about TISM's "I Might Be A Cunt, But I'm Not A Fucking Cunt" video.

Ah, I thought you meant Rammstein's "Pussy".
posted by Pendragon at 1:22 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Is Facebook still dropping a banhammer on trans people who don't deadname themselves? It seemed like even after they walked that back a few steps, I was hearing of trans people getting locked out.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:40 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Pendragon: Rammstein's okay, but that video is straight up professional porn parody. TISM's is spoofing some (in)famous Australian celebrity wedding night sex tape.
posted by SansPoint at 4:58 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Here's Twitter's latest statement on InfoWars. Nothing new here, just a lot of blah blah doesn't violate our policies blah blah we don't care about the destruction of democracy or the harassment of school shooting victims.

I like Mike Monteiro's take on this yesterday:
If Alex Jones doesn’t violate your rules, you need better rules.
posted by Nelson at 5:07 PM on August 7 [10 favorites]


Or, to put it another way: if you don't got Alex Jones nixin' then your ToS could use some fixin'
posted by cortex at 5:11 PM on August 7 [14 favorites]


cortex: *epic, totally un-punk sounding guitar solo*
posted by SansPoint at 5:14 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Not to be the Twitter-mouthpiece guy, but there's more. There's a statement from their half-time CEO with some condescending and defensive words about whatever ideal they think they're enforcing. It links to a blog post by Del Harvey, their VP of Trust & Safety, with a more general picture of Twitter's evolving policies and mechanisms for enforcing standards.

I still believe Twitter is making a good-faith effort to set consistent policies. It's just they keep failing at setting and implementing good policy.
posted by Nelson at 5:19 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I still believe Twitter is making a good-faith effort to set consistent policies. It's just they keep failing at setting and implementing good policy.

Well, of all the complaints about Twitter aired in this thread, I don't think anyone's been upset that they're inconsistent.
posted by duffell at 5:47 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


Good faith is a stretch though.
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on August 7 [5 favorites]



Jackassish:

“We’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past.”

English:

“Nobody is buying my BS, but I refuse to admit the problem is my BS, so I’ll claim the problem is that you don’t understand me.”

Jackassish:

“If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure...”

English:

“We can’t even _imagine_ doing anything for moral reasons, so the only things that could posdibly make us do anything is if we were forced.”
posted by Artw at 6:14 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Oops, that was @raganwald quoting @jack I was quoting there.

@raganwald
“Principles we enforce impartially regardless of political viewpoints.”

English:

“Whether Sandy Hook happened is just, you know, a matter of political opinion. If someone wants to demonize the parents as conspirators, who are we to argue with their politics?”

posted by Artw at 6:31 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


I deleted my Twitter account immediately after posting my last comment. It has not effected my life in the slightest. I'm going grocery shopping later and the CEO of Safeway or whatever horrific conglomerate owns them is also almost certainly a fascist (autocorrect had this as "racist" at first) and that is likely true. But I need food to survive so I guess giving him money sucks for me. But I do not need Twitter to survive.

I do not need reddit or even Metafilter. You can check out. It's free of charge since, after all, you aren't the customer but the product.
posted by East14thTaco at 11:11 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


mathowie also buttoned: I’m done with Twitter.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:37 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]




The Disqus commenting system, popular with many blogs and other websites, has banned all of Alex Jones's sites from use of their service.
posted by dnash at 12:05 PM on August 8 [8 favorites]


Dorsey is going on Hannity's radio show.

So, yeah, he's not just apathetic. He knows what he's doing. And the people below him know it.
posted by Etrigan at 12:43 PM on August 8 [12 favorites]


So I see that Dorsey is also CEO of Square (the electronic payments company, not to be confused with the makers of Final Fantasy), which makes me wonder if it might be helpful to push for a boycott of their service.

This could be done at both the consumer level (i.e. don't patronize businesses that use Square, and make sure their management knows why!) and the business level (if your small business uses Square, see what it would take to switch to a different provider).
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:58 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I still believe Twitter is making a good-faith effort to set consistent policies.

Twitter making "a good-faith effort" was laughably implausible before, but it seems like Jack has decided that merely making token efforts not to publicly and explicitly side with white supremacists wasn't profitable enough.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:02 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


Twitter is making a good faith-effort to set consistent policies for deez nutz.

That is a frankly embarrassing dodge that will ruin the intern who wrote it one day. "Oh that was you? Sorry, we value judgment at this firm."
posted by East14thTaco at 1:59 PM on August 8




The entirety of their policy is you can report someone for one of these checkboxes:

[_] It's disrespectful or offensive
[_] Includes private information
[_] Includes targeted harassment
[_] It directs hate against a protected category (e.g., race, religion, gender, orientation, disability)
[_] Threatening violence or physical harm
[_] This person is encouraging or contemplating suicide or self-harm

First checkbox is a fake and it'll just give you a suck it up message. Other checkboxes result in the reported tweet being sent off to an offshore team to be looked at devoid of any context and it has to fall precisely into the checkbox in the reviewers judgement, and by precisely it mean it has to include a racial slur or they will do fuck all.

And that's it, and also any action taken will be incredibly temporary.

That's for normal people, anyway. White supremicists and/or freinds of Jack get better treatment, I am sure.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


Not sure Artw pasted the link he intended to there? I think it should go to this 2017 story in DAME: Twitter and White Supremacy, A Love Story.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:08 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting the proper link (original was deleted) - also worth a read: For years now, conservatives have worked the digital refs. Their strategy is working.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]






Here's some coverage of Dorsey + Hannity: CNET, CNBC, Hollywood Reporter, The Hill. Most articles focus on Dorsey's message that Twitter doesn't shadowban. My favorite quote, from the CNET article: "Dorsey hasn't directly defended attacking dead children and their grieving parents".

Also new, more from Twitter Trust & Safety VP: email to employees. Talks about plans for some upcoming policies, including one for "off-platform behavior".
posted by Nelson at 5:39 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Twitter doesn't shadow ban, they only throttle your visibility to basically nil. HUGE difference.
posted by Yowser at 10:16 PM on August 8


After all, if your followers can see your tweets, are you really shadow banned?

(PS twitter actually does shadow ban. I've seen my own tweets hidden completely in replies in incognito, even though they showed when I was logged in. I know, jack lied, what a shock)
posted by Yowser at 10:18 PM on August 8


I guess a downside of arranging everything by dumbass opaque algorthym is everyone can make up their own fanfic as to how it’s working.
posted by Artw at 11:12 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


Kara Swisher: Rules Won’t Save Twitter. Values Will. She gets to the heart of a big piece of the problem with Twitter policy, the lack of clear values and goals for their policies.
Twitter is doubling down on the same squishy point of view that has allowed too much of it to become a cesspool over the last several years, and it has little intention of truly cleaning up.
posted by Nelson at 9:44 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]



Alexandra Kitty: The upshot to Facebook, YouTube, et. al. banning Alex Jones is that it makes it that much harder for his mind-viruses to infect more people. The damage has been done, but this is at least something to help contain it.


SansPoint: No, it won't, and I do not understand how people cannot see that banning him legitimizes him. His audience is not going to shrug their shoulders and now think the way their ideological rivals will. He has been setting up the narrative to make it happen, and it happened.

They took an average man and made him an omniscient messiah. We have had people like Jones for decades, and while they were controversial, they were fringe and contained. If people ignored him or just said, "Whatever, to each his own," the wind would have taken out of his sails because the point of supporting Jones is to prove that the Establishment is oppressive and won't even allow one person to have a contrarian opinion.

The optics of this could not be worse: you have a cabal of super-rich robber barons who have countless scandals that are far worse in comparison all have to gang up on censor one man. Not only does this make him forbidden fruit, it will now compel his followers to find alternate routes for him.

Before, you had people listen to another man's words, and they got comfort from it. Now, you are compelling action with those words as a guide. That Big Tech fell for such an obvious ruse is not a surprise: they had it too easy for too long without much opposition, but that you didn't have people advising them that inoculating a public by allowing Jones to provoke ideological fights without anyone taking the bait would prove his theories wrong is surprising.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:58 PM on August 9


Pretty sure he only became a mainstream menace once he got that platform. See how many Pizzagater he can pull off without YouTube. Expel him to the same limbo the Milo shitface was expelled to and see that influence shrink even further.
posted by Artw at 2:03 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


What Artw said. Milo's reached has been obliterated following his removal. He still has his core supporters, but without Twitter or other platforms to amplify his message (organically _and_ through bots), he's been rendered largely inert. The same thing would likely work for Jones, though he will still have a larger reach because of the Infowars brand.
posted by SansPoint at 2:07 PM on August 9 [11 favorites]


If I were to call for burning political foes alive without having a half-million subscribers, I really doubt that there would be any question about banning my account.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:21 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I’d say that another accoount wouldn’t get away with yelling about “globalists” so much, except depressingly it seems they regularly do.
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on August 9


I was just about to say "counterpoint: Milo" but y'all beat me to it. And, of course, in the audience direction, there's the study that showed that banning entire subreddits actually worked really well (PDF):
Looking at the causal effects of the ban on both participating users and affected communities,
we found that the ban served a number of useful purposes for Reddit. Users participating
in the banned subreddits either left the site or (for those who remained) dramatically reduced
their hate speech usage. Communities that inherited the displaced activity of these users did not
suffer from an increase in hate speech. While the philosophical issues surrounding moderation (and
banning specifically) are complex, the present work seeks to inform the discussion with results on
the efficacy of banning deviant hate groups from internet platforms.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:34 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


In a turn of events that I'm sure everyone will find totally shocking, Jack's claims that none of Jones' content violated their rules is a bunch of straight-up lies to protect his white supremacist BFFs:
[A] CNN review of Jones' accounts show that all of the videos that initially led the other tech companies to take action against Jones were in fact posted to Twitter by Jones or InfoWars. All were still live on Twitter as of the time this article was published. CNN noted this in a request for comment from Twitter on Wednesday morning, before Harvey's email was made public. The company declined to comment at the time.

Those videos were not the only content CNN found in its review of Jones' and InfoWars' Twitter accounts that suggest the social media platform's statements about its stance are incorrect, or that its rules are not being applied to Jones and InfoWars.

Content that appears to violate Twitter's rules appears over and over again in the hundreds of hours of video available on the accounts that Jones and InfoWars maintain on Twitter and Periscope, a livestreaming video service that Twitter owns. Jones has repeatedly degraded individuals of the Muslim faith. He has attacked people on the basis of gender identity. And he has engaged in the harassment of individuals.

CNN on Wednesday morning presented Twitter with examples of such content available on both the InfoWars and Jones account. A spokesperson at the time said the company had no comment beyond a statement CEO Jack Dorsey made on Tuesday in which he said neither Jones or InfoWars had "violated our rules" and other previous statements by the company. When asked if Twitter would be reviewing the videos and content CNN had asked about, the spokesperson declined to answer. On Thursday afternoon, after another request for comment, a different Twitter spokesperson notified CNN that the company was reviewing the content.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:01 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


SansPoint: No, it won't, and I do not understand how people cannot see that banning him legitimizes him. His audience is not going to shrug their shoulders and now think the way their ideological rivals will. He has been setting up the narrative to make it happen, and it happened.

Yes, you cannot deny ammunition to a bullet factory. Jones will twist anything into a persecution complex. It's how he works.

We have had people like Jones for decades, and while they were controversial, they were fringe and contained. If people ignored him or just said, "Whatever, to each his own," the wind would have taken out of his sails because the point of supporting Jones is to prove that the Establishment is oppressive and won't even allow one person to have a contrarian opinion.

Yes, he was so well "contained" that parents of children killed at Sandy Hook live in fear of their lives because of his actions. Jones was not a harmless kook, but the head of a media empire with no compunction about wielding it as a weapon. Stop pretending that he was the former.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:29 PM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Threatening federal officers is a criminal offense that would get most of us peons banned from a site and the subject of an FBI investigation.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:07 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


You can't deny ammunition to a bullet factory, but you can keep people from buying bullets, or having guns to shoot the bullets with. You can also deny them materials to make bullets with.
posted by SansPoint at 4:13 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Threatening federal officers is a criminal offense that would get most of us peons banned from a site and the subject of an FBI investigation.

Speaking of which...
posted by tobascodagama at 4:24 PM on August 9




Another counterpoint to the idea that this will only make Jones stronger:

Sarah Manavis: No-platforming on Twitter can work – and Baked Alaska proves it
Immediately after his banning, searches for Gionet’s name drastically dropped, despite 18-months of growth thanks to Pepe, Trump, and Charlottesville. His YouTube channel, despite his best efforts, failed to take off – at least when compared to the level of his alt-right counterparts (such as Alex Jones himself.) He was even banned from live-streaming on the video hosting site for hate speech. And, worst of all for Gionet, news outlets stopped writing about him. That was, aside from occasionally checking-in to mock him for how badly his career post-Twitter banning was going.

The truth was that, after being no-platformed by Twitter, Baked Alaska became irrelevant. And not just irrelevant in the mainstream, but an increasingly irrelevant voice even in the niches of political discourse.

Nor is Gionet an isolated case. Milo Yiannopoulos, although admittedly more famous than Baked Alaska ever was, is undeniably a diminished figure since being removed from Twitter on 15 November 2017. There’s been little news about him since his now infamous editor’s notes were published slamming his then cancelled book back at the end of 2017, aside from being mobbed out of a bar back in April. Similar things have happened to white nationalist Richard Spencer, who was famously punched in the head at Trump’s inauguration. Although Spencer is still on Twitter, he had his verification stripped, and has since been disowned by mainstream news sources as well as his alt-right counterparts.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:29 AM on August 10 [9 favorites]


Proto-Jones and eventual murderer Milton William Cooper is another counterpoint of sorts: he came up at a time when his reach was shortwave radio and print books. 10-15 years later he would have had legions of fans and been a major vector for bad American craziness. It's all down to the size of the platform that has been made available. The idea that being marginalized and underground somehow makes these bad actors more powerful will always be weird to me.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:49 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


"We can't kill Fox Mulder, we'll turn him into a martyr!" never made sense on the X-Files, and it makes even less sense when we're talking about a hateful asshole like Jones getting banned from Twitter.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:10 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Motherboard also has a piece up on why no-platforming actually works in the social media attention economy that's pretty good.
Social media is designed to be habit forming and many thousands of hours of research have been put into making sure these platforms are a daily habit; the question is whether Alex Jones and InfoWars is going to remain a daily habit after the initial Streisand Effect spike.

“A lot of Jones’s programming is impromptu, where he’s doing emergency broadcasts drunk in his house at 1 AM,” Carusone said. “Without YouTube’s push notifications or algorithms, there’s no way anyone would be watching that.”
posted by tobascodagama at 1:00 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Inside Twitter’s Struggle Over What Gets Banned. Twitter invited two NYTimes reporters to a policy meeting. It's a very friendly-to-Twitter story for one whose basic conclusion is "they don't know what they're doing". But it does have a nice overview of events of the week.
posted by Nelson at 7:14 PM on August 10


Twitter admits InfoWars violated its rules, but says it will remain on the platform. At this point it looks like Twitter is looking for excuses to keep InfoWars around.

On the good side, Twitter suspends Proud Boys on eve of deadly Unite the Right rally anniversary. Ban includes @ProudBoysUSA and @Gavin_McInnes. No explanation what took so long.
posted by Nelson at 7:11 AM on August 11 [5 favorites]




A new protest is organizing to get Alex Jones booted off of Twitter

@shannoncoulter, 6:21 AM - 12 Aug 2018
Good morning! To encourage Twitter to drop Alex Jones, I just blocked the Twitter accounts of every Fortune 500 company w/ a Twitter presence. Ready to mass block Twitter's most lucrative advertisers with me? There are three quick & easy ways. Instructions are in this thread.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:45 PM on August 12 [16 favorites]


I just blocked the Twitter accounts of every Fortune 500 company w/ a Twitter presence

That's fucking beautiful. I've been trying to think of stuff like that, and sometimes it's just sitting out there right in front of you.
posted by rhizome at 9:16 PM on August 12 [7 favorites]


Seems like a win-win. Even if it doesn't get Jones booted off Twitter, you'll still have inoculated yourself against potential #brand #engagement.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:02 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Apparently they hit almost 35k subscribers for just the first method in under 24 hours.

So...this might actually work. Genius.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:13 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I LOVE THIS PLAN. I'M EXCITED TO BE A PART OF IT. LET'S DO IT!
posted by SansPoint at 12:03 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Time to put a stake in the idea that Jack et al are not complicit in white supremacy:

Alex Jones names his allies in the fight against the globalists: Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey

Twitter's words and actions are sufficiently supportive of white supremacists that they now consider him one of their own. The best part is that they have no one to blame but themselves, and this will be how they go down in history.

Womp womp
posted by zombieflanders at 1:54 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]




I think there is a crack in the Twitter wall.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


....and....Alex Jones apparently saw his temp-ban coming and started encouraging his followers to move to Tumblr.

From what I understand of tumblr, that seems like he'll stick out like a sore thumb, yeah?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on August 15


Tumblr is not afraid to use a ban hammer.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:43 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Alex Jones trying to use Tumblr is the most hilarious gd thing I've ever heard. Good luck, buttercup. (Also, Tumblr's UI and behavior seem purpose-built to alienate everyone over the age of 30, so have fun!)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:48 AM on August 15 [5 favorites]


Also, weirdly, extremely mobile hostile which is a problem for a big chunk of users.
posted by Artw at 7:06 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


It's also a haven for drama llamas, memes, urban legends, and rumors.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:16 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Livejournal is Russian owned now, just sayin’.
posted by Artw at 7:20 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


It's also a haven for drama llamas, memes, urban legends, and rumors.

True, but there is no guarantee that the populace will support Alex Jones or agree with him. Tumblr drama, from what I've seen, mostly seems to be sparked by a given person caring very deeply about a very, very specific thing, and insisting that the rest of the surrounding world fall in line.

Case in point: I found a Tumblr post just now by someone who was dismayed that Alex Jones was giving into the "mainstream media" perspective on a particular issue.
However- the issue in question was....chemtrails.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


True, but there is no guarantee that the populace will support Alex Jones or agree with him. Tumblr drama, from what I've seen, mostly seems to be sparked by a given person caring very deeply about a very, very specific thing, and insisting that the rest of the surrounding world fall in line.

I don't see that as categorically different from how Jones and his followers work.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:47 AM on August 15


EmpressCallipygos: ....and....Alex Jones apparently saw his temp-ban coming and started encouraging his followers to move to Tumblr.

zombieflanders: Alex Jones names his allies in the fight against the globalists: Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey

Hmm, I wonder if Jones got a call or a DM from @Jack. I would love if it was a DM, and I would cackle with glee if it got leaked.

And ffs - only 7 days time-out for inciting violence to his 891K followers. How about a day for every thousand followers? Sounds good to me.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:14 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Ha Ha.

DORSEY: We put him in a timeout, removing his ability to tweet for a time period.
NBC: You think Alex Jones is going to change his behavior based on a timeout?
DORSEY: I don't know. We have found that it does have the potential to ... change behavior.

Just utterly pathetic and naive* on every level.

* or lies, obv.
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Dorsey signals the ban could become permanent in this tweet. Because you know, they have to follow their dumbass broken policy to the letter according to their subjective interpretations. Because that's been working so well so far.
posted by Nelson at 11:48 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Alex Jones' personal account is still on Twitter, still unblocked, and still endorsed by Twitter with the blue check mark. The tweets aren't particularly personal, it's mostly just tweets promoting and linking InfoWars content.
posted by Nelson at 12:05 PM on August 15 [2 favorites]


I miss my 90s cyberpunk dystopia where the giant media conglomerates were the bad guys and the conspiracy nuts spoke the truth.

I sometimes wonder if this is the life @prisonplanet is walking but he's not notice the flip in reality, with his edgy lip-hanging-cigarette avatar image
posted by davemee at 1:31 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


« Older Meet the guy with four arms, two of which someone...   |   I want to be angry, but I have to do some reading... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.