Streaming platform Roku hosts Infowars channel after Facebook, YouTube bans

Streaming platform Roku hosts Infowars channel after Facebook, YouTube bans
© Courtesy of Alex Jones

Streaming platform Roku on Monday published a channel for Infowars, the live show hosted by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, months after social media companies like Facebook and YouTube banned the show for hate speech.

An Infowars channel already existed on the platform for several years and required authentication via the website, a spokesperson told The Hill. An updated channel was published on Monday, triggering concerned tweets from Roku users. 

Many customers threatened to stop using Roku, a television streaming platform with more than 27 million active users, at the end of 2018. 

Roku said in a statement that it “allows our customers to choose from thousands of entertainment, news and special interest channels, representing a wide range of topics and viewpoints.”

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“Customers choose and control which channels they download or watch, and parents can set a pin to prevent channels from being downloaded,” the statement continued. “While the vast majority of all streaming on our platform is mainstream entertainment, voices on all sides of an issue or cause are free to operate a channel.  We do not curate or censor based on viewpoint.”

Roku has policies against content that is “unlawful, incites illegal activities or violates third-party right” but Infowars has not violated any of those policies, the statement read.

The streaming platform added that it was “not promoting or being paid to distribute” Infowars content. There is no commercial or advertising relationship between Roku and Infowars.

Roku’s decision to update the Infowars channel comes several months after major tech companies such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have banned the show and Jones, citing abusive behavior.

Jones and Infowars have pushed unfounded conspiracy theories the Parkland, Fla., school shooting and the U.S. government’s involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Other Infowars videos contained hate speech against Muslims and another with hate speech against transgender people.

Jones is also facing several lawsuits from families of Sandy Hook victims over statements he made questioning whether the massacre was a hoax and whether the children were “crisis actors.” 

Lawyer Josh Koskoff, who also represents the Sandy Hook families in their lawsuit, called on Roku to pull the Infowars channel. 

“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. Worse, it interferes with families’ efforts to prevent people like Jones from profiting off innocent victims whose lives have been turned upside down by unspeakable loss,” Koskoff said in a statement obtained by The Hill.

“We call on Roku to realize this and immediately pull the program. Until then, the families will be switching to alternate streaming providers that know the difference between authentic – if provocative – opinions and a lying opportunist seeking to make money by any means possible. There is no amount of anticipated revenue that could possibly justify Roku’s calculated decision,” the statement continued.

A spokesperson for Roku said the company had not yet reviewed Koskoff's statement and declined to provide an immediate response.