Roku reversed its decision Tuesday to allow Alex Jones’ InfoWars to stream on its platform — days after the company said it would host the conspiracy theorist’s flagship show.The streaming service said in a statement, “deletion from the channel store and platform has begun and will be completed shortly.”Roku took the odd decision earlier this week to host the live show as a supported channel — months after most other platforms had outlawed Jones.
That decision prompted a huge backlash, including from the families of the Sandy Hook victims, who are suing Jones for repeatedly claiming the massacre was a hoax.“Roku’s shocking decision to carry Infowars and provide a platform for Alex Jones is an insult to the memory of the 26 children and educators killed at Sandy Hook,” the families said through a lawyer.Roku at first defended its decision, saying it was a neutral platform where “voices on all sides of an issue or cause are free to operate a channel. We do not curate or censor based on viewpoint.”But the pressure from users threatening to cancel their subscriptions proved too much, and Roku said the content would be removed after it “heard from concerned parties.”
Infowars has yet to respond to the news.Baffling many Roku users, the service’s decision to include Infowars as a channel came six months after every major online platform removed Jones, including Apple, Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, Stitcher, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even YouPorn.READ: Alex Jones has been banned from YouTubeAnd research suggests that no platforming works in limiting access to an audience.Roku’s reversal may please most of its users, but Jones’ fans on the far right social network Gab voiced their anger Wednesday.“Looks like pretty soon we will be back to piracy for entertainment as the streaming services show their authoritarian tendencies,” one Gab user called Sheep Dog said.
Gab founder Andrew Torba pointed out that News Corp was the lead investor in Roku in their last private funding round before their IPO in 2017, adding: “You wonder why they just banned @RealAlexJones?”Another user, TheGreatCodeHolio, said that Roku had simply “caved to the whiny vocal minority and banned a channel they don't like.”
Cover image: Alex Jones of InfoWars talks to reporters outside a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations' use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)