After weeks of deplatforming efforts by social media companies, Infowars founders Alex Jones has lost his last refuge: Twitter.
Twitter took the unusual step of confirming its ban of both Alex Jones and Infowars via the Twitter Safety account, citing abusive behaviour. Jones’s Twitter page had accumulated nearly 900,000 followers before the suspension, while the Infowars page had accrued around 430,000.
Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope. We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations. https://t.co/gckzUAV8GL
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) September 6, 2018
According to a Twitter spokesperson speaking with The Daily Beast, the impetus for the suspension stems from an altercation between Jones and CNN reporter Oliver Darcy during yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Video of the altercation was livestreamed on Twitter. Jones had attended the hearing to, in his own words “face my accusers”— ostensibly meaning Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, both of whom testified regarding their failures to contain misinformation, harassment, and propaganda on their platforms.
Calls to ban Jones from social platforms have persisted for years, given his propensity to spread dangerous conspiracy theories like Qanon; Pizzagate, which resulted in a man firing a gun inside a Washington, DC, restaurant; and claims that the survivors of mass-shooting incidents are “crisis actors.” Some of the families of victims in such incidents are currently suing Jones for defamation. Until today, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who on Wednesday appeared before two congressional committees to address lawmakers’ concerns about the platform, has refused to remove Infowars or Jones, stating “he hasn’t violated our rules” and that “taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term” would add “fuel to new conspiracy theories.”
Jones was banned from a litany of services over the past month, including Spotify, YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Efforts to hold Jones accountable to the community guidelines of sites he leveraged have resulted in a nearly 50-per cent loss of viewership to Infowars. Like YouTube, the accounts of some of Infowars’s other major players — including editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson — remain active, though Twitter Safety states that the company will “continue to evaluate reports we receive regarding other accounts potentially associated with @realalexjones or @infowars and will take action if content that violates our rules is reported or if other accounts are utilised in an attempt to circumvent their ban.”
Currently Jones appears to be broadcasting to Periscope via War Room, an Infowars-affiliated account.
We’ve reached out to Twitter for comment and will update when we hear back.