Big tech’s war on free speech has just escalated as Apple will be scrubbing controversial radio host Alex Jones’ podcasts from iTunes.
Whatever one may think of the bombastic Jones, his style and his proclivity for sensationalism, make no mistake that this is only the beginning.
Jones is a high-profile target who has on the political left’s hit list for years and with Silicon Valley scrambling to purge their platforms of all non-conforming voices as well as Trump supporters before the elections, the Apple ban will open the door to go after more mainstream conservatives such as Sean Hannity now that the California thought police have made their move.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 6, 2018
According to Reuters, “Apple removes most of U.S. conspiracy theorist’s podcasts from iTunes”:
Most of U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s podcasts from his right-wing media platform Infowars have been removed from Apple’s iTunes and podcast apps, the media news website BuzzFeed quoted a company spokesman as saying on Sunday.
The move by Apple is the most sweeping of a recent crackdown on Jones’s programs by Facebook and other online sites that have suspended or removed some of his conspiracy-driven content.
Apple told Buzzfeed that it had removed the entire library for five of Jones’s six Infowars podcasts including the shows “War Room” and the daily “The Alex Jones Show”.
Only one program provided by Infowars, “RealNews with David Knight” remained on Apple’s platforms on Sunday, according to media accounts.
Okay…what is happening here?@iTunes @apple, are you really choosing to host Infowars on your platform after Alex Jones’ harassment of Sandy Hook parents and Vegas shooting victims and threats to the Special Counsel? How does this not break your Terms Of Service? https://t.co/Bfhwf6NXYN
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) July 30, 2018
More from BuzzFeed:
Apple’s decision to remove all episodes of Jones’ popular show — rather than just specific offending episodes — is one of the largest enforcement actions intended to curb conspiratorial news content by a technology company to date. Apple did not host Jones’s shows, but it offered an index that allowed anyone with an iPhone to find and subscribe to them. Though Apple is far from Jones and Infowars’ only distribution platform, the decision to pull Jones’ content will considerably limit the outlet’s audio reach — as of 2018, Apple’s Podcasts platform amassed 50 billion all-time downloads and streams.
In a statement Sunday evening to BuzzFeed News, Apple confirmed that it notified Jones of the decision to remove the five shows under its hate speech guidelines earlier this weekend. “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,” a company spokesperson said. “Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
The sweeping move is just the latest in a line of technology companies taking action against Jones and Infowars for violating rules against hateful content. Last month Facebook and YouTube each pulled down four videos posted by Jones and the conspiracy outlet Infowars while Facebook suspended Jones from its platform for 30 days. Last week, Spotify and the podcast app Stitcher followed suit, removing specific episodes of Jones’ audio show, citing hateful content policies.
As the internet’s largest podcast platform, Apple faced pressure all week from media and activists to remove Jones and Infowars from its services. Sleeping Giants, the online activist group which has lobbied for tech platforms to cut all ties with Jones, roundly condemned Apple last week for being slow to join Spotify and Stitcher, suggesting Jones’ content routinely breaks the company’s terms of service.
Apple caved to organized social media mob pressure but when a corporation is ideologically leftist it doesn’t take much pressure to achieve the desired effect.
For those who feared that the government would be censoring the internet, it now appears that those concerns were misguided: corporate America will do it for them and can hide behind the “we’re a business” shield to swat aside those who criticize them for crushing free speech.
Soon there will be no conservative content at all on Apple, that day is coming.