Alex Jones and Social Media: What’s Left

Fabrizio Herrera, Maroon-News Staff

Alex Jones, the infamous right-wing conspiracist, has finally gotten his name in the news again. Whether we like it or not, Jones has become a political influencer who cannot be ignored. Jones is known for his inflammatory rhetoric, which tends to be not only extremely offensive, but also extremely false. Jones is the type of guy who argues that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged…so yes, that says a lot about him. For a while, Democrats wondered why companies like Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google gave a man like Alex Jones access to their platforms.

Within the last month, these companies have finally taken a stand against Alex Jones. Jones is now permanently banned from Twitter, Youtube and the Apple store. Last month, Facebook and Spotify also temporarily banned his content. This is where the partisan divide began. Most people on either side of the political spectrum disagree with Jones’ deranged views, yet the Republican side still chooses to defend Jones’ access to social media platforms. The right-wing media defends Jones by citing the first amendment. In their mind, free speech is limited once social media companies pick and choose who gets to speak and who does not.

Even though I do agree that free speech should not be limited by a person’s political views, social media platforms reserve the right to ban whoever they want. Alex Jones, like any other social media user, has to respect the policies enacted by platforms regarding the use of offensive language, or even the incitation of violence. When companies like Facebook or Twitter banned Jones from their platforms, they cited their policies as a defense. For example, Facebook released a statement that said Alex Jones was banned because he was “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”

Twitter, on the other hand, permanently banned Jones due to his verbal abuse of CNN reporter Oliver Darcy. Jones told Darcy that he was “smiling like a possum that crawled out of the rear end of a dead cow. That’s what you look like. You look like a possum that got caught doing some really nasty stuff.” In both cases, the social media websites had every right to ban Jones because he chose to break their clearly defined policies.

Sure, it might not be ideal that social media companies are now the arbiters of free speech, but in a world of misinformation, someone has to separate truth from absurdity. Alex Jones was given multiple chances to change his rhetoric. Social media companies started temporarily banning him as a warning, yet he chose to continue to break their policies. Even to this day, Jones argues that the Chinese government was responsible for his bans from social media. Right-wing media can, and will, argue that he was censored by “big tech” companies, who are plotting to “silence conservative voices,” but this was simply not the case. Jones is not your typical conservative voice. He is the outlier. Tech companies were forced to act because of Jones’ huge gathering of fans, and because in the past Jones has actually called his fans to “gather their rifles” in preparation of an incoming “civil war” that will be started by the liberals.

The fact of the matter is that Alex Jones is a danger to everyone, and not only himself. His fans believe every word that comes out of his mouth, even after Jones’ attorney called him, according to The Independent, a “performance artist playing a character.” Alex Jones is a self-serving, online persona that says what he says not because he believes it, but because it will get him views. Jones manipulates his audience to make a profit. Jones deserves to be banned, not because of his views, but because of the danger he poses to society. Social influence, in the wrong hands, can be a hell of a weapon.

Contact Fabrizio Herrera at [email protected]