Radio Edit: Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones deserved online bans

This past summer was a series of disappointment and failures for alt-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

In early October, PayPal became the latest internet service to ban Alex Jones and his controversial website Infowars from using its platform.

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Over the summer, Facebook was the first to ban Alex Jones. Apple followed, banning his podcasts from the iTunes platform, and then YouTube. In September, Twitter permanently banned Jones and his Infowars channel from its social media services, including Periscope, its live streaming app.

While Jones' followers and Jones himself have decried these decisions as censorship against an unpopular voice, Facebook laid it out on its decision to act: Jones was spreading hate.

Facebook released a statement that said that Jones was “glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

Apple added: “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users.”

Jones has long insisted that the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 never happened and that those involved were “crisis actors,” paid actors who acted the scene out for the anti-gun agenda.

As a result, Jones' followers have harassed relatives of shooting victims with death threats, phone calls and protests.

Jones has also called for violence against Robert Mueller, the special investigator looking into the Russian collusion charges in the U.S., and has called Hillary Clinton a literal “demon.”

He's also spread disinformation and conspiracy theories for the 20 years he's been running his website.

Facebook has recently taken other steps in an attempt to ensure information posted is factual, using algorithms and factcheckers to double check material.

Twitter, Apple and Youtube have also moved to remove hate speech from their platforms.

Governments have also put pressure on platforms like Facebook to clean up its fact-checking. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Facebook to fix its “fake news” problem or face sanctioning.

Finding facts in the age of social media is a struggle, and removing hate speech from the internet is another ongoing problem. Banning habitual conspiracy theorists and hatemongers like Alex Jones is a step in the right direction.

Steve Marlow is the program co-ordinator at CFBX, an independent radio station in Kamloops. Tune in at 92.5 FM on the dial or go online to thex.ca.

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