Infowars’ Alex Jones claims 5.6 million extra subscribers since being censored, so did he win?
In the battle to have Alex Jones and Infowars purged from social media, it’s not obvious who won. Jones’ critics are celebrating because he’s been deplatformed, while he claims to have 5.6 million extra subscribers as a result.
Jones and his right-wing conspiracy platform, Infowars, have been wiped off YouTube, Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn, Spotify, Stitcher, and Pinterest, among others. The big beasts of social media who constantly insist they are independent, appeared to work in a coordinated way to censor the bizarre but undeniably popular conspiracy theorist.
“Infowars has had the highest traffic it’s ever had – 5.6 million new subscribers in the past 48 hours – and so has my radio show,”Jones told the Daily Mail, referring to his newsletter and podcast.
That claim means over 5 million extra subscribers, in just a matter of days, may have signed up to watch him and his Infowars organisation deliver their little nuggets of hate and conspiracy. Not exactly the outcome the would-be censors were looking for. The blowback from attempting to stifle ideas and speech has a long history, matched only by the history of people failing to learn from it.
Social media platforms risk creating the right-wing answer to Star Wars’ Obi Wan Kenobi: strike him down and he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
There have been a range of high profile voices warning against censoring Jones who, while widely-watched, appears to the majority like little more than a vicious but comic figure screaming red-faced diatribes.
Jordan Peterson, the highly-popular Canadian psychology professor who is himself often the target of the political left, commented on Twitter about the Jones case saying: “never persecute someone paranoid, lest you justify his paranoia.”
Censoring Jones could help achieve the unlikely task of making him seem like a serious political figure who is taking on the established elite. That can be a powerful message, even from figures that appear to many to be laughable, just ask Donald Trump.