Politics & Policy

What Tech Giants’ Alex Jones Ban Got Wrong

Alex Jones speaks at a pro-Trump rally near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 18, 2016. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Rather than articulate a clear standard by which the conspiracy theorist could be banned, Facebook and its competitors cited vague prohibitions on ‘hate.’

Alex Jones is a full-fledged kook.

This is a man who called Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “monster” controlling an unnamed pedophilic gang, and then added, “Politically, you’re going to get it, or I’m going to die trying, bi**h. Get ready. We’re going to bang heads.” This is a man who suggested that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre never occurred, and then claimed that victims were “child actors.” This is a fellow who says that vaccines give your children autism, who says that a Syrian chemical-weapons attack was a “false flag,” that Stoneman Douglas survivor David Hogg was a “crisis actor,” that the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria was actually a pedophilic headquarters, and that the Chobani yogurt company had contributed to a rise in tuberculosis.

This week, he was banned from Facebook, Apple, and YouTube . . . for none of the above reasons.

Apple announced that it “does not tolerate hate speech,” and thus Jones had to go. Facebook announced that it had removed Jones’s pages for “glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.” YouTube also cited “hate speech and harassment” as the rationale for knocking down Jones’s videos.

Now, I dislike Jones more than the average human. I’ve been a longtime critic, a status that resulted in Jones personally threatening my company a few months back, calling me a “parasite” and an “atheist” while screaming, “Get behind me, Satan!” I think Jones is a disgrace, and that supposed conservatives who have embraced him and Infowars have done a serious disservice to the conservative cause.

But I’m far more concerned with social-media arbiters suddenly deciding that vague “hate speech” standards ought to govern our common spaces than I am with the daily dose of detritus distributed by this delirious dunce. Social-media giants had a choice here. If they wanted Jones gone, they could simply have defined a standard limit on the number of debunked conspiracy theories one could peddle on the site before being banned, or they could have created a standard prohibiting public threats.

Instead, they chose the most politically correct way of booting Jones: They claimed he’d violated undefined standards regarding “hate.” That’s why so many on the right are rushing to Jones’s defense — not because they like Jones or anything he stands for, but because the Left is happy to apply double standards under the rubric of “anti-hate measures.”

To see how, we only need to examine the last week of news. Sarah Jeong, the newest member of the New York Times editorial board, has tweeted dozens of times, in racist fashion, about white people. The Left defended Jeong, not on the grounds that the New York Times ought to ignore social-media mobbing, but on the grounds that people of color can’t be racist. Were Jeong white, the Left dutifully explained, she would justifiably be fired; but since she is an Asian-American graduate of Berkeley and Harvard Law School, she’s a victim of the white patriarchy, and thus fully entitled to use racist slurs to target those with less melanin in their skin. “Hate speech,” it seems, only runs one way.

And it only applies to particular viewpoints, too. Suggest that Caitlyn Jenner is a man, and you might be violating crucial social-media “hate speech” taboos; suggest that the Jews are bloodsucking demons, as Louis Farrakhan does, and the leaders of the Women’s March will still hobnob with you.

Is it any wonder, then, that conservatives don’t trust social-media hall monitors to apply their alleged rules with equal vigilance? It’s demonstrative of the echo chamber that is Silicon Valley that rather than going after Jones on some semblance of an objective standard, they went directly for the buzzwords that will be most popular among those who love Sarah Jeong.

Unfortunately, the informal implementation of left-wing “hate speech” standards will likely be only a precursor to far more devastating culture wars to come. That’s because the Left does not operate in good faith. People of rational mind agree that Jones is a never-ending font of silly garbage. But the Left won’t leave it at Jones, which is why the social-media giants didn’t craft an objective standard to apply.

Mr. Shapiro is the host of the podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, the editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, and the author of How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps and The Right Side of History.


The Latest