Why YouTube Deleted Videos From InfoWars Founder Alex Jones and Gave Him a ‘Strike’
Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist and InfoWars founder, has received his second wrist-slapping of the year by YouTube.
The video-sharing giant owned by Google (GOOGL) has deleted four videos posted by Jones, and issued a “strike” against him.
YouTube reportedly removed videos that contained hate speech against Muslims and transgender people and another that included an instance of child endangerment. With the strike, Jones will be unable to livestream to the site for three months, at which time the strike will expire.
If Jones receives another strike within this timeframe, he will be barred from uploading new content for two weeks. And a third strike within the 90 days would lead to Jones’ YouTube account being deleted entirely.
Yet this is not the first time Jones has pushed his content to the limits of acceptability on YouTube. He received a strike earlier this year, in February, after posting a video in which he claimed that Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg was a “crisis actor.” Because the three month period has elapsed, the two strikes are not cumulative.
For its part, YouTube explained that it has “long standing policies against child endangerment and hate speech. We apply our policies consistently according to the content in the videos, regardless of the speaker or the channel.”
But policing offensive content has proven challenging for YouTube. Not only has Jones already written on his other social media channels that the videos remain available on the InfoWars website, but also social media sites like YouTube have struggled to draw the line between freedom of speech and hate speech.
YouTube, Facebook (FB), and others have come under increasing scrutiny for failing to crack down on fake news, conspiracy theories, and harassment and bullying. And while social media sites have pledged to do more to address these concerns, none have gone so far as to ban Jones from their sites, and they are often slow to remove inflammatory content.
Earlier this week, Jones reportedly threatened to shoot special counsel Robert Mueller and accused him of being a pedophile. YouTube eventually took down the video, but it remains on Facebook, as the company claims it doesn’t violate its rules.
Freedom of speech and the company’s policies are undoubtedly one part of the equation. Financial incentive may be another. According to CNN, despite finding Jones’ content offensive, YouTube earns money on the pre-roll ads placed on his videos posted to the site. And the site reportedly even placed ads on Jones’ InfoWars channels without the advertisers’ knowledge—which eventually spurred some companies to pull advertising from YouTube entirely.