Alex Jones has been suspended from Twitter – for real this time – after posting a video that the social media platform says violated its rules.
As The Guardian reports, Jones is in “read only mode” for up to seven days. That means that he can’t tweet, retweet, comment on, or “Like” any tweets. He can, however, read others’ tweets. Further, he was asked to remove the offending tweets that got him grounded in the first place – which he did.
What were those offending tweets? According to The New York Times, last week Jones tweeted and retweeted over a dozen times in one day. Some of those tweets included videos of a live session in which he apparently called for his supporters to get their “battle rifles ready” for battle against the media and other groups. A user flagged that tweet as violating the social media platform’s rules against violence.
In the aftermath of that tweet storm, Jones found himself banned from Facebook, Spotify, and Apple.
One platform from which he wasn’t banned, however, was Twitter. And Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who faced backlash for his refusal to ban Jones, had to personally explain why Jones wasn’t banned.
“We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”
— The Hill (@thehill) August 15, 2018
The Twitter account for Jones’ media company, InfoWars, remains active, however. Similarly, Jones’ apps remain available on the iTunes Store and the Google Play store.
Perhaps surprisingly, Jones has found defenders in the last places you’d expect. Washington Post writer David Greene, for example, opines that censorship on social media – even though it’s done by private entities and not the government – sets a bad precedent.
“We should be extremely careful before rushing to embrace an Internet that is moderated by a few private companies by default, one where the platforms that control so much public discourse routinely remove posts and deactivate accounts because of objections to the content. Once systems like content moderation become the norm, those in power inevitably exploit them.”
Greene also notes that social media outlets have acquiesced to authoritarian regimes by banning, for example, posts from atheists in Muslim theocracies, or posts critical of authoritarian governments.
Finally, Greene also warns that much social media censorship is done by computer algorithms instead of human beings, and that innocent posts – such as images of women breastfeeding, or artwork depicting women’s bared breasts – have wound up being censored.