Conservative media is ramping up its battle with Facebook after the platform banned Alex Jones’s Infowars website from its platform.
Conservative sites questioned whether Jones was being signaled out because of his politics, and whether Apple and other tech companies that have also dropped Jones were abusing their power.
The Drudge Report’s banner headline for most of Monday was “Apple regulates hate.” It also included a link high on its site to the conservative Gateway Pundit site that said: “Are Tech Giants Working Together to Censor Conservatives?”
Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson criticized Facebook's decision as political censorship.”
“This is a co-ordinated move ahead of the mid-terms to help Democrats. This is political censorship. This is culture war,” Watson tweeted.
Prominent right-wing internet figure Laura Loomer also decried the bans.
“Infowars played a big role in helping @realDonaldTrump get elected. BIG TECH is currently trying to influence elections by banning Conservatives. I'm actually depressed,” she tweeted.
Facebook on Monday said that it had decided to take down Infowars and its founder Jones’s pages because they violated company policies.
“[U]pon review, we have taken [the pages] down for 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,” Facebook wrote in its post on the matter.
Spotify and Apple had already booted Infowars from their platforms. After Facebook’s announcement, YouTube said that it too would ban Jones’s channel from its site, after he tried to circumvent his 90-day livestream ban by directing users to his livestreams on other video platforms.
Facebook had faced criticism for allowing Jones remain on the site, despite his pushing of conspiracy theories — including that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children were killed, was staged. He has also said that the survivors of a shooting earlier this year at a high school in Parkland, Fla., were “crisis actors.”
The company’s move on Monday to boot Infowars from its platform earned it praise from high-profile celebrities and politicians, such as Chelsea Handler and Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyExpats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines Growing number of Democrats endorse abolishing debt limit altogether Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (D-Conn.)
“[Facebook, Apple and YouTube] are private companies that shouldn’t knowingly spread lies and hate. They took a good first step today by removing Infowars,” Murphy tweeted.
Reaction to the move was not unanimous, however, and on the left and the right there was some criticism of Facebook for censoring anyone using their platforms.
Congressional Republicans previously have raised fears about conservatives being banned from social media platforms.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthySchiff: McCarthy 'will do whatever Trump tells him' if GOP wins back House House GOP campaign arm raises .8 million in third quarter McCarthy raises nearly M so far this year MORE (R-Calif.) has repeatedly slammed major technology companies, claiming that they’re biased against technology companies.
Axios reported last week that McCarthy had written a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Ex-Rep. John Shimkus joins lobbying firm Lobbying world MORE (R-Ore.) pushing to have Twitter testify about anti-conservative bias on its platform, following a Vice News report alleging that conservatives were being “shadow banned” on Twitter, because some Republican lawmakers' names did not appear in the autocomplete search results.
“Any solution to this problem must start with accountability from companies like Twitter, whose platforms have enormous potential to impact the national conversation — and unfortunately, enormous potential for abuse,” McCarthy said in the letter.
McCarty had also hammered Google in May after the website’s “knowledge panel,” which displays facts about things users search, showed “Nazism” among the California GOP’s ideologies.
In May, Facebook said that it would start an anti-conservative bias review led by former GOP Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.). As a part of the review, company executives also met with officials from the conservative Heritage Foundation.
In June, Twitter, conducted a set of quiet meetings with Republicans to hear them out as well.
Tim Miller, a former spokesman for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, argued the initial hesitancy by Facebook and other tech companies to boot Jones shows they are taking concerns of bias seriously.
“I think in some ways the Infowars case reinforces how sensitive tech companies are to conservative concerns,” Miller said. “The fact that this was a drawn-out process shows that tech companies are taking this seriously. They don't want to turn off conservatives. Conservatives use their product.”