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Far-right conservatives now want the government to save Alex Jones
One user called it ‘Soviet-style tech censorship.’
The biggest online community of President Donald Trump supporters launched a campaign to petition lawmakers and the Federal Communications Commission to intervene after far-right conspiracy website InfoWars was banned across multiple social media platforms.
YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, and Apple all took successive action within hours of one another to remove both content and communities associated with InfoWars and its founder Alex Jones on Monday.
The move comes after weeks of conflict with Jones’ media outlet as social media companies came under increased pressure to deal with fake news on their platforms.
In late July, Google-owned streaming platform YouTube removed four videos it said violated user policies and issued a 90-day livestreaming ban. Days later Facebook then issued Jones himself a 30-day suspension. Then, just last week, music streaming service Spotify removed several InfoWars podcast episodes from its new channel.
Monday’s collective action, however, in which the social media giants announced bans for the outlet, will massively curtail InfoWars online content distribution network and has sparked outrage among conservatives—including Trump’s hardcore supporters on Reddit.
Users of The_Donald subreddit blasted the “Soviet-style tech censorship” of Alex Jones’ far-right media outlet as a “modern day book burning” and “a coordinated rigging of the 2018 mid-term elections.”
“This is getting outrageous. We’re headed down the same path as China,” user richmomz wrote in the weekly Monday Midday MAGAThread. “Instead of an authoritarian Communist government censoring public opinion it’s companies overwhelmingly owned by left-wingers.”
“Although private entities are allowed to impose restrictions on the forums they host, we’re reaching a point where it has become an organized effort to stifle one viewpoint in favor of another,” the post continued. “In my opinion, we’re reaching the point where the FCC will have to get involved in order to preserve the free speech rights of Americans on social media and the internet… If enough concerns are raised it may raise the political impetus to the point where the FCC feels obligated to at least look into the matter.”
The user then warned redditors not to allow social media giants to “become the unelected arbiters over what we’re allowed to talk about and with whom on the internet” and provides links to the FCC consumer complaints portal. By late afternoon the post had been boosted to the subreddit’s front page as users began to engage and push the campaign forward.
The subreddit also bumped to the top links to Jones content, telling users they had a right to “decide for yourselves” on whether InfoWars was worth of people’s patronage. Another compared it to the de-platforming of Milo Yiannopoulos.
In fact, all over the subreddit, people leapt to the defense of Jones’, rallying behind a #FightForFreeSpeech movement. “We are all Alex Jones” another declared. Which makes sense. As a crowd that is synonymous with pushing misinformation and producing inflammatory content, it’s no wonder The_Donald supports Jones’ cause.
It’s just ironic they thing the government should be the one stepping in.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.