Streaming adult video site YouPorn, announced today that it has banned Alex Jones from its platform, following actions against the conspiracy-monger by tech companies including Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify—but notably, not Twitter. Before you go “wtf,” there were indeed (non-porn) videos with Alex Jones in them on YouPorn (people often take advantage of relatively lax copyright policing on various porn sites to upload non-pornographic content). YouPorn said it’s also removed spoof videos of Jones and will not allow him to host any content on the platform moving forward.
So naturally the next question is…is there lots of Alex Jones content on porn sites? AS IT TURNS OUT THE ANSWER IS YES PLS HELP pic.twitter.com/WSgFUpyi2e
— Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) August 6, 2018
It’s easy to dismiss YouPorn’s ban as a publicity grab, but it underscores the fact that Twitter’s lack of action is increasingly notable, even though last December it said it would take a harder stance against hate speech. Alex Jones’ verified Twitter profile, with 838,000 followers, is still up (one of his recent tweets complains about “being banned on the Internet”).
In a statement, YouPorn vice president Charlie Hughes said “Following news that YouTube, Spotify and Facebook have banned Alex Jones from their platforms, team YouPorn is joining in solidarity and announces we are banning his content as well. As one of the largest user-generated content platforms in the world, we have already removed his videos that have violated our terms of service. As an inclusive platform, hate has no place on YouPorn.”
For those that need a refresher, Alex Jones frequently spews hate speech against Muslims, immigrants, transgender people and other targets and also played a major role in propagating some of the most harmful conspiracy theories in recent years, including Pizzagate and the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism. His broadcasting of theories that the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings were faked contributed to harassment against the families of victims (Jones is currently trying to get a defamation lawsuit brought against him by several Sandy Hook parents dismissed).
Yesterday, YouTube removed Alex Jones’ channel, which had 2.4 million subscribers, for violating its community guidelines, after issuing it a strike last month. On the same day, Apple removed Alex Jones’ podcasts from iTunes, following similar actions from Spotify and Stitcher, and Facebook removed four Infowars pages for violating its policies against graphic violence and hate speech. Pinterest also took down Infowars’ profile following an inquiry from Mashable.
This now makes Twitter an outlier, one that apparently has lower standards than YouPorn, which, after all, simply streams adult videos. Twitter, on the other hand, arguably contributes to the silencing of minority groups by giving hate speech and bullies a platform, making its inaction an object lesson in the Paradox of Tolerance. With many of his most active social media outlets removed or suspended, Jones now has two main pulpits: the Infowars site and Twitter.
Twitter has promised to do a better job of dealing with hate speech, but a lot of its actions come across as more hemming and hawing while real damage is being done through its platform (for example, President Donald Trump retweeting Islamophobic posts from the deputy leader of hate group Britain First’s account, which Twitter only suspended three weeks later despite massive uproar and concern that it would trigger more violence and harassment against Muslims).
With Apple (now America’s largest company by market capitalization), some of the biggest social media platforms and even YouPorn taking a stand against Alex Jones and Infowars, the pressure on Twitter is increasing. In response to a request for comment, Twitter said Infowars and associated accounts are not currently in violation of Twitter or Periscope’s rules. TechCrunch has also reached out to Infowars for comment.