Posts Tagged ‘Alex Jones’

Infowars Banned

August 7, 2018

Facebook, YouTube, and Apple have decided to remove content from Alex Jones and Infowars. Here is the report from CNN.

YouTube, Facebook and Apple have taken steps to remove content associated with InfoWars and its Alex Jones.

Each social media platform said Monday that it had removed content from Jones or InfoWars because it had violated their policies. The companies’ moves shut down key distribution channels that had given the controversial media figure easy access to millions of internet users.

The most dramatic action came last, from YouTube, which is owned by Google (GOOGL). It removed many top channels associated with InfoWars, including The Alex Jones Channel, which had 2.4 million subscribers and videos that were viewed over 1.5 billion times.

“When users violate … policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts,” said a spokesperson for YouTube.

 

But in a message posted Monday on Twitter, Jones encouraged users to access live streams directly from the InfoWars website. He described it as “the one platform that they CAN’T ban.”

Earlier on Monday, Facebook removed four pages associated with InfoWars and Jones for repeated violations of its policies.

The social media platform said in a statement that it had “unpublished” the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page.

 

BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday that Apple (AAPL) had removed five podcasts associated with InfoWars from iTunes and its podcast app.

“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,” it said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Apple confirmed the accuracy of its statement to CNN.

This is not a First Amendment issue and technically it is not censorship at all. Apple, Facebook and YouTube have every right to decide who can and cannot use their services and if they decide that Alex Jones is not someone their want using their platforms, they do not have to host him. Having said all that, however, I really wish they had not made this decision.

To begin with, there is already a growing perception that the tech industry is heavily biased towards the political left. Many conservatives are starting to fear that such social media giants as Facebook and YouTube are beginning to use their near-monopolies to systematically marginalize and deplatform conservative voices. For Facebook, YouTube, and Apple to almost simultaneously shut down a right-wing crackpot conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones does nothing to allay such fears, particularly when there are any number of left-wing crackpot conspiracy theorists spewing just as much hatred that the tech industry apparently has no problem with hosting on their platforms. It doesn’t seem as if there is really any objective standard that has been applied. Perhaps no standard can be applied. The whole problem with banning hate speech is that there isn’t really any kind of speech that can be objectively defined as hate speech, beyond speech one happens to dislike. One person’s hate speech is another person’s speaking truth to power.

This leads to another reason I really wish they hadn’t done this. For three separate companies to decide on the same day that Alex Jones is unacceptable looks like collusion. I have no idea whether executives from Facebook, Apple and Google were working together on this, but there is no way this doesn’t look like some sort of conspiracy to shut Alex Jones up for speaking out. If it was their desire to silence Alex Jones, they have miscalculated badly. They have managed to validate all of his paranoid rantings in the minds of his audience and have made him a free speech martyr. A quick visit to Infowars shows that Alex Jones is making the most of this perception of persecution, referring to his radio show and website as banned. I wouldn’t be surprised if the traffic to Infowars hasn’t tripled in the last twenty-four hours.

The truth is that this kind of censorship, okay, not really censorship but you know what I mean, doesn’t work all that well, unless you have a totalitarian government enforcing it by not allowing any dissent at all. The sort of half-way “its technically banned but somehow still available” kind of censorship only makes the censored material more attractive because it is forbidden and the people seeking it out feel brave and rebellious. There was is a reason Banned in Boston used to be considered an endorsement by makers of risqué films and why the Streisand effect is a thing.

Although this attempt by leading tech giants to silence Alex Jones is not technically censorship because they are not government agencies, in a way it really is a kind of censorship. If the owners of the printing presses, broadcast stations or internet social media platforms collude to exclude certain political or social viewpoints, then they are practicing censorship. This is a more insidious kind of censorship than throwing a dissenter in prison where he can become a sort of martyr but of simply quietly denying the dissenter any means of disseminating his views. He may have freedom of speech, in theory, but without the means to make his speech heard, he does not have freedom of speech in practice.

This seems to be the goal of the left. They cannot pass laws against speech they dislike, at least not yet, because the First Amendment forbids it. They can mobilize private institutions, such as businesses, to censor dislike speech. They will not succeed with this rather crude attempt to silence Alex Jones. They are likely to succeed in creating a climate of intolerance throughout our society. Their goal is to fundamentally transform this country into the sort of place where you are always looking around to make sure you are not overheard, to keep your mouth shut except to say accepted platitudes, to be on the lookout for the Thought Police. We ought not to let them get away with it, even if it means standing up for the rights of people we would rather not be associated with, like Alex Jones. After all, as the saying goes, first they came for Alex Jones and Infowars…

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Conspiracy Theories

June 10, 2013

By some chance the other day I happened to read two separate pieces on conspiracy theories, which caused me to think a little about conspiracy theories. Or, perhaps it wasn’t by chance. Maybe they wanted me to read them.

Anyway, the first was this article in Cracked.com which listed five conspiracy theories that are easily debunked. Cracked.com is a comedy website, the successor to the magazine Cracked, which was, for a time, the biggest competitor to Mad Magazine. Although their articles are written to be humorous, I have found many of them to be surprisingly informative. The whole point of this particular article was that some of the most popular conspiracy theories, the JFK assassination, faked moon landings, 9/11 truthers, are easily debunked with a little true knowledge to events and with the use of common sense or reasoning.

The second article I read was by Walter Hudson at PJMedia. He describes himself as a former conspiracy dabbler and writes about the attractions and problems of conspiracy theories.

Enter Alex Jones, with his seemingly plausible claim that the Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin, fronts for a globalist conspiracy to erect a New World Order. Look! We have video of Bush 41 telling Congress about it. Look! We sneaked into the Bohemian Grove and took creepy footage of a strange ceremony. Look! That hole in the Pentagon wasn’t shaped like an airplane… as if aluminum leaves a cartoon silhouette in reinforced concrete.

After many months veraciously taking in everything Prison Planet had to offer, watching Jones entire catalog of documentary-style films and following his organization’s “alternative news” and even having a couple of my personal blog entries cross-posted on his site, I eventually began to tire of the shtick. There were a number of things which contributed to my rejection of the conspiracist mindset.

First, as I began to get more involved in political activism and came to know people in positions of real power, their bumbling humanity undercut any sense that they might be part of a massive globalist conspiracy. That observation added credence to the idea that vast, complex conspiracies like those posited by 9/11 truthers, who more often than not don’t even agree with each other, would require far more covert cooperation among innumerable co-conspirators than is remotely feasible.

I also found it suspect that Jones and his ilk never presented practical solutions, even within the context of their unique worldview. If anything, they seemed to employ the very fear-mongering tactics they accused others of using. To listen to Jones on a regular basis is to live on the edge of a knife, in constant anticipation of tomorrow’s martial law, complete with door-to-door gun confiscation and cattle cars delivering patriots to concentration camps.

It must be a heady feeling to know that you are one of the few who know what is really going on. You can have that welcome sense of superiority over the sheeple around you. Then too, there is the excitement of being in a world in which a vast struggle is going on behind the scenes. There is the delicious fear that tomorrow may be the day when they round dissenters like yourself up and ship them off to the FEMA concentration camps. Along with the human instinct for imposing order on chaotic or random events,these must be a powerful psychological impulse to believe in conspiracies.

For my part, I do not give much credence to conspiracy theories. There have been many conspiracies throughout history, in the sense that people have plotted and connived ways to control events, but the fact that many of these conspiracies have either been less than successful, or have not remained secret  for very long suggests that a vast conspiracy of a powerful secret society is not very probable. Most conspiracy theories assume that the conspirators possess superhuman intelligence and foresight and have influence everywhere. The truth is that people are idiots. I mean no one is capable of planning for every conceivable contingency and even if one were able to, something unexpected is likely to occur. How many military campaigns have gone exactly as the generals have planned them?

Then too, the conspiracy theory requires everyone in the conspiracy to be of one mind in the planning and execution of the plot. How likely is that? Think about the times in school when your teacher had the students form groups for a group project. How did that go? Think about your coworkers. Are there never disputes over what to do and how to do it? In a conspiracy which includes the most powerful people in the world, wouldn’t they also have some of the biggest egos in the world? How likely are people used to giving commands going to submit to other people’s plans?

It is also human nature to form factions. Every major religion and many political movements splits into sects and schisms given time. If there were some vast conspiracy out there, how long would it take before the movement would split? Why wouldn’t some disgruntled former conspirator go public?

Hudson concludes with the real danger that such theories pose.

Therein lays the reason why conspiracists are genuinely dangerous. Just as it would be ill-advised to drive while blindfolded or fly an airplane in whiteout conditions without instruments, proceeding through life in denial of the facts at hand leads inexorably to harm. Genuine threats to life, liberty, and property exist in the real world and deserve an informed response. Conflating those with imagined or unproven threats diverts attention from where it ought to be focused. More fundamentally, the goal of a properly whittled down government limited to its single rightful purpose of protecting individual rights, if achieved, would inherently defang any malevolent conspiracy. So why not focus on achieving that rather than converting people to believe “the truth” regarding a particular incident?

In my experience, the conspiratorial mindset presents the believer with an excuse for inactivity. Sure, the Alex Joneses of the world happily trot around the globe chasing Bilderbergers, shoving cameras in people’s faces, and ranting in bullhorns. But that’s not activism. It doesn’t accomplish anything. It doesn’t affect public policy or otherwise secure individual rights. On the contrary, it drives an addictive sense of perpetual revolution where believers stand ever ready to shoot back, yet won’t bother to participate in the political process and effect real change. It’s so much easier to sit holed up in your bomb shelter, cleaning your arsenal for the day the Man comes to take it, than to roll up your sleeves and commit to the humble and often tedious work of politics. One of those options has the virtue of seeding real change. The other proves self-indulgent.

In fact, you have to wonder whether the Bilderbergers are spreading outlandish conspiracy theories in order to hide what they are really out there. If I don’t post on this blog again, you’ll know they got to me.

 

 


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