Update 12:40 p.m. 8/6: YouTube banned Alex Jones for violating its policies just hours after Facebook's announcement. Story here.
Social media and streaming behemoths are stripping away pieces of Alex Jones’ Infowars empire, but the conspiracy theorist known for portraying the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax still has major distribution on YouTube, Twitter, syndicated radio, and his own website with millions of monthly visitors. Facebook announced on Monday that it removed four pages including the Alex Jones Channel, Alex Jones, Infowars and Infowars Nightly News after content violated its community standards “multiple times.” Facebook’s move came just hours after Apple purged all but one of Jones’ podcasts from Apple Podcasts and iTunes. Spotify has also removed all episodes of The Alex Jones Show. “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," a spokesperson for Apple told BuzzFeed News.
It’s not like Jones’ traffic will be gutted, though. Infowars’ flagship website boasts 3.6 million monthly unique visitors, according to metrics kept by Amazon’s Alexa Internet. Most of that traffic comes via Alphabet Inc. properties Google and YouTube. The Alex Jones Channel has 2.4 million followers on YouTube alone, although YouTube took down four videos from the Infowars channel last week and suspended the channel from live-streaming for 90 days.
His radio show, syndicated by more than 160 stations nationwide and streamed online, reaches millions. His Sunday broadcast out of Austin, Texas reached 2 million weekly listeners in 2010, according to Texas Monthly. Then there’s his Twitter, where he’s verified has about 815,000 followers. Following Apple’s announcement, Ellen K. Pao, former chief executive officer of Reddit, challenged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on why Jones still has a verified account.
“Your move, @jack. Be a leader with integrity like @tim_cook,” she said.
Jones himself is now on a 30-day Facebook block for posting violating content, the company said. Last week, Facebook removed four videos across pages relating to Jones. Cached results on Google show the now-removed pages had a combined 2.9 million “likes” from Facebook users. Alex Jones’ response on his radio show to the Facebook takedown: “Thank God.”
Sleeping Giants, an advocacy organization that has been fighting social media companies for allowing Jones’ content, said Facebook shouldn’t receive too much praise for the move. Facebook said the content from the conspiracy theorist 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.” But while Jones faces several defamation lawsuits, none of Alex Jones’ violations were related to false news reports, Facebook said. “They get little credit here from us, though. We’ve been asking @facebook for over a year how the harassment of Sandy Hook parents, Vegas shooting victims and racist screeds are allowed under their Terms of Service. As soon as last week, they said this content didn’t,” Sleeping Giants said on Twitter.
Cover image: Radio host Alex Jones is escorted from a rally in the Public Square after inciting a confrontation near the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)