Alex Jones vs. Social Media: Who Wins?

Part of "For a Civil Society", a special summer series by Samuel Kim

Despite+the+whole+situation%2C+Alex+Jones+still+has+a+verified+Twitter+Account.+According+to+the+CEO+of+Twitter%2C+Jones+will+not+be+banned.

Despite the whole situation, Alex Jones still has a verified Twitter Account. According to the CEO of Twitter, Jones will not be banned.

Samuel Kim, Public Relations Manager

Many of you have probably heard of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the founder of InfoWars. This conspiracy site has peddled numerous stories that have been disproved: the Sandy Hook tragedy being a hoax, Soros paying “crisis actors” to support March For Our Lives, and, most notably, the government putting chemicals in the water to… well, you’ve seen the memes.

Jones is also well known for his extremely negative attitudes towards Islam, Liberalism, traditional Conservatism, Hollywood, and anything that reminds him of the “establishment.” To his viewers, he is a champion of the so-called “resistance,” while to others he is a meme, a joke, or, on a more serious note, a danger to civil society.

In response to a pending lawsuit by Sandy Hook victims’ families against Jones, YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, and iTunes all announced that they would be dropping Jones from their platforms, citing violations of “hate speech” and “harassment” policies.

Jones had already anticipated this event years before, prophesying that the Silicon Valley firms were “out to get him.” Although this foreshadowing caught with him, the truth is many social media personalities have been blocked, regardless of affiliation. Prominent politicians, social media personalities, and others have recently been “shadow banned.”

Looking at this situation, I believe that banning right-wing, fringe personalities will be detrimental to future political stability. When fringe-groups are banned or met with hostility, more mainstream people rally around them. Shortly after Alex Jones was banned, numerous public figures came out to support, such as Nigel Farage (former UKIP leader), Ben Shapiro (founder of the conservative Daily Wire), and Noam Chomsky (former professor at MIT). In contrast, when fringe groups were left alone, many had to moderate their views. A notable example of this would be the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which moderated many of its views on LGBT rights and other social issues. In addition, banning Alex Jones creates a post-modern martyr that right-wing activists can use to bolster their argument against incumbent politicians and the media. Jones’s recent fall from grace will only continue to fuel, and has tapped into growing frustration against the traditional forms of media.

All in all, the banning of Alex Jones presents new questions about methods to deal with fake news and free speech, as well as those regarding possible legislative or judicial intervention. These questions will linger, as long as more and more accounts are, as George Orwell put it, “vaporized.”