This week Facebook removed 22 pages affiliated with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his website InfoWars, CNN reports. On Tuesday, the social media giant indicated that the move was related to their recidivism policy, one which they claim is intended to address the creation of duplicate or similar accounts in response to pages being removed for violations of the site’s terms of service — including hate speech, threats of violence, and bullying.
“We use a broad set of signals to determine if a page violates our recidivism policy and determined these Pages violated our policy for reasons including having similar titles to the pages we unpublished and having the same admins,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
Last year, four pages managed by Jones and InfoWars were deleted, with most of the offending 22 having emerged since then. Around the same time as Facebook’s original removal of Jones’ content, YouTube and Apple took similar steps, effectively pushing Jones and InfoWars out of the majority of mainstream content platforms.
Jones took to Twitter at the time to express his outrage, and to rally support around what he saw as improper censorship of his voice. He directed his followers and fans to visit his website, one which he called “the one platform they CAN’T ban.” Shortly thereafter, Jones was deactivated by Twitter as well.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 5, 2019
One of the pages deleted this week, titled NewsWars, had grown to about 30,000 followers prior to this deletion — demonstrating the challenge facing social media companies as they attempt to enforce bans and other reprimands on platforms where it is quick, easy, and free for violators to set up new pages on the same platform.
Jones’ battle with each of the major social media platforms came to a head last year after years of official reprimands, temporary suspensions, and threats of bans for a variety of offenses related to each platform’s individual terms of service.
“Upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence… and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies,” Facebook said at the time in a statement, with other platforms expressing similar sentiments.
“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” Apple said in a statement at the time, as regards their own hosted services and InfoWars.