Twitter Permanently Bans Alex Jones and Infowars
A video of Jones berating a CNN reporter with ‘the eyes of a rat’ was the final violation after a series of them by Infowars and its founder.
Twitter banned Infowars and its founder, the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, following months of public pressure to do so.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, the company said it had “permanently suspended” accounts associated with Jones and Infowars after numerous complaints that they violated its terms of service prohibiting repeated abusive behavior. A Twitter spokesperson told The Daily Beast specifically that an Infowars video posted on Twitter of Alex Jones berating CNN reporter Oliver Darcy on Wednesday was the final violation of the company’s terms.
“Those are the eyes of a rat,” Jones told Darcy to his face in a live video, where he accused Darcy and CNN of trying to police internet content.
“Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope,” Twitter said in the first of a series of tweets. “We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ previous violations,” the company said, linking to its policies on abusive behavior.”“As we continue to increase transparency around our Rules and enforcement actions, we wanted to be open about this action given the broad interest in this case. We do not typically comment on enforcement actions we take against individual accounts, for their privacy."
Twitter said it will “take action” if Jones or Infowars seeks to circumvent their ban.
The ban deprives Jones and Infowars from its 1.5 million followers, combined, and comes on top of bans that cut them off from millions of others.
Last month, tech giants YouTube, its parent company Google, Facebook, and Apple deleted or restricted Jones’ accounts, citing Jones’ violations of their policies against hate speech and incitement to violence against minorities.
Twitter executives previously tried to oust Jones and white nationalist Richard Spencer from the platform, Wall Street Journal reported this week, but CEO Jack Dorsey had personally intervened. (Twitter denied the report, saying it was “completely and totally false”.)
On August 14, Twitter hit Jones with a one-week ban, after he tweeted a link to a video encouraging his followers to ready their “battle rifles” for war with his enemies, particularly in the media. A Twitter spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Thursday that the temporary suspension was a final warning for Jones.
Dorsey partially defended the right-wing conspiracy theorist’s use of Twitter earlier in August, saying that he had not violated the platform’s rules.
“We’ll enforce if he does,” Dorsey tweeted on August 7, after a series of tech companies banned Jones and Infowars for hate speech. “And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”
The Twitter founder addressed concerns about Jones’ conspiracy-mongering, and tasked journalists with refuting his bogus claims.
“Accounts like Jones' can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions,” Dorsey tweeted. “This is what serves the public conversation best.”
A Twitter spokesperson told The Daily Beast that, after Dorsey's August 7 tweets, the company was made aware of previous violations.
Twitter has previously deleted fraudulent and conspiracy-peddling accounts, particularly after some were revealed to have been created by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm. Some of those accounts pushed far-right conspiracy theories while posing as U.S.-based Republicans, earning them likes and retweets from top Trump campaign staffers days before the 2016 presidential election.
During a Wednesday Senate intelligence committee hearing, Senator Susan Collins pressed Dorsey on those accounts, asking how they were allowed to operate unchecked.
Dorsey partially dodged the question and referred to Twitter as a “digital public square.” Although he called for “transparency,” he did not commit to taking any significant action against bad actors.