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6 Aug, 2018 18:51

Censorship or justice? Twitter debate rages over tech giants’ simultaneous InfoWars ban

Censorship or justice? Twitter debate rages over tech giants’ simultaneous InfoWars ban

Twitter is on fire with debate over almost simultaneous decisions by Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify to take action against controversial right-wing YouTube host Alex Jones’ and his InfoWars channel citing “hate speech”.

InfoWars Editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson tweeted on Monday that Facebook had “permanently banned” the outlets page for “unspecified” hate speech and described the move as setting a “chilling precedent for free speech”.

Facebook confirmed the banning in a blog post, saying the four InfoWars pages were targeted due to “repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes”. In a statement, Apple said it “does not tolerate hate speech” and said it believes in “representing a wide range of views” so long as people are “respectful” of those with differing opinions.

YouTube quickly followed suit with a statement that said Jones’ account had been “terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines”. Spotify said it had removed all of Jones’ podcast episodes due to “hate content”.

Twitter has been flooded with reactions to the decisions. Some people were delighted to see the controversial host banned and expressed disappointment that Twitter had not yet moved against InfoWars.

Others were less pleased with the decision and said it was nothing more than censorship of conservative and right wing voices, with one user suggesting it amounted to “online apartheid”.

Some also noted the curious way that Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify all decided to ban Jones at exactly the same time, despite the fact that he had been active on their platforms for years. Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted that Jones was “the victim today of collusion by the big tech giants”.

US President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale even weighed in on the debate, appearing to endorse a suggestion that Facebook should have “a transparent database showing banned accounts” which explains exactly why an account is in violation of its rules.

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