On Tuesday, Twitter confirmed that it had temporarily suspended the account of Alex Jones. The move follows recent restrictions that were imposed on Jones by three other major Silicon Valley tech companies. Twitter told news outlets that the Alex Jones account has been put in “read-only mode.” This means that while Jones can still browse through content on the platform, he will not be able to interact with posts or send tweets himself. The restriction will last for seven days.
Twitter said that the decision to suspend the account was based on a violation of its policies. The statement said that the controversial conspiracy theorist was also required to delete a tweet that called on his listeners to get “battle rifles” ready. It’s not clear how the social media platform interpreted the tweet but it’s possible that Jones was calling on his listeners to arm themselves for a battle or something.
Facebook, YouTube, and Apple were the first major tech companies to take action against Jones. The conservative conspiracy theorist has since argued that he’s being censored because of his right-wing views. Twitter had initially issued a statement saying that it wouldn’t suspend Jones’s account. The company said at the time that there was no evidence to suggest that he had violated any rules on the platform.
It seems though the company may have just bowed to public pressure. The decision not to suspend Jones even after major tech companies had taken action drew backlash from other Twitter users. Alex Jones has been at the center of controversial conspiracy theories. At one point he claimed that the deadly Sandy Hook mass shooting was staged. The claims led to the harassment of people in the Sandy Hook community. Jones is also being sued for defamation as a result.
Facebook was the first major tech company to take action against Jones. In early August, the social media company announced that it had removed four pages associated with Jones due to violations of its community guidelines. A few hours later, YouTube also followed the same path deleting Jones’s channel that had nearly 2.5 million subscribers. Apple was then in line to do the same with the company deleting all podcasts associated with Jones.
Social media companies have been accused of doing very little to stop misinformation on their platforms. Facebook, in particular, has been blamed by lawmakers and other figures in US politics for doing very little to stop misinformation campaigns on its platform during the 2016 election. The company vowed to take serious action including removing all accounts associated with Russian bots.
In addition to this, Facebook also started to crack down on fake news on the platform as well as hate speech. So far a number of pages have been removed. However, Alex Jones’ ban was perhaps the most high profile controversial decision by the social media giant. Jones has not yet responded to the suspension. We are also not sure whether Twitter is considering more drastic measures against him but it seems the company has finally made a statement.