InfoWars App Soars After Platforms Ban Alex Jones

August 8, 2018 5:36 pm Last Updated: August 8, 2018 9:18 pm

Alex Jones and his InfoWars media appear to have gained in popularity after Facebook, Apple, Google, Spotify, and Pinterest removed the majority of his pages, channels, podcasts, and profiles from their platforms.

The InfoWars app for iPhone became the third top news app in Apple’s App Store on Aug. 8, surpassed only by the Twitter app and the News Break aggregator. The app overtook all other news media companies, including CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times.

InfoWars is ranked the third most popular news app on Apple App Store on the afternoon of Aug. 8, 2018. (Screenshot via Apple App Store)
(Screenshot via Apple App Store)

InfoWars was also the no. 1 trending app on Google Play.

Jones, a long-time radio host, has made a name for himself as an alternative news outlet. He’s faced frequent criticism for making controversial, sometimes unverified, claims and for his hot-tempered outbursts. He is currently also facing a defamation suit by parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.

On Aug. 6, within 12 hours of each other, the main InfoWars pages on Facebook were shut down, and its main channels and podcasts were removed from Apple’s iTunes, Google’s Youtube, and Spotify. The companies all cited violations of “hate speech” policies as a reason. Pinterest and LinkedIn have also removed Jones’s profiles since then.

However, the ban appears to have backfired.

Not only have his apps ballooned in popularity, but the ban triggered the interest of many people who had been oblivious or dismissive of Jones before.

Searches for his name grew 50-fold on Google between the evening of Aug. 5 and morning of Aug. 7 and was still more than 10 times up by the afternoon of Aug. 8.

Searches for key words "alex jones" massively increased on Google following InfoWars content getting shut down on Aug. 6, 2018, on major social media platforms. (Screenshot via Google Trends)
Searches for keywords “Alex Jones” massively increased on Google following InfoWars content getting shut down on Aug. 6, 2018, on major social media platforms. (Screenshot via Google Trends)

Liberal-turned-libertarian Youtube commentator Matt Christiansen said he didn’t pay attention to Jones before. But after Jones was banned, Christiansen delved into InfoWars to find out what was so offensive about him.

‘Friggin’ Frogs’

Christiansen found clips where Jones accused the government of promoting homosexuality as a form of population control. This theory is connected with Jones’s perhaps most mocked claim: “I don’t like them putting chemicals into the water that turn friggin’ frogs gay.”

That claim is based on a 2010 research paper by a team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley. The paper stated that atrazine, one of the most commonly used pesticides in the United States and Australia, “induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs.”

The atrazine-exposed male frogs suffered, among other defects, depressed testosterone, suppressed mating behavior, decreased fertility, and 10 percent of them “developed into functional females,” stated the paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Atrazine has been banned in the European Union since 2004.

Jones also came under fire for questioning reports about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting of 2012. He went as far as calling the whole shooting “manufactured.” Some parents of the Sandy Hook victims filed lawsuits against Jones in April for defamation.

He later reconsidered his view and apologized.

“In hindsight, I think it probably did happen,” he said in a video that was among those removed from Youtube.

“You might view Jones’ commentary as baseless, or wrong on the facts, maybe even morally wrong, in cases where he’s cast down upon the victims of tragedy,” Christiansen said in a Aug. 8 Youtube video. “But based on everything I’ve seen, I don’t see cases where he’s promoting hate, let alone encouraging violence.”

Jones proved aware of the heightened curiosity, encouraging his viewers and listeners to fight against the ban by promoting InfoWars.

“This is the verboten info. This what they don’t want you to see. You’re an adult. You deserve to hear what all the hubbub’s about. You deserve to hear what the establishment is so desperate to silence so you can make your own decisions,” he said in an Aug. 8 Youtube video posted on the channel “WWE Shoots.”

The ban was preceded by some left-leaning media, politicians, and groups calling on the tech companies to remove Jones.

Vague Rules

Jones likened the “hate speech” policies used to purge his content to “something out of 1984 or a Kafka novel, where you don’t even know what you’ve supposedly done, you can’t face your accusers.”

That concern has been echoed by a plethora of conservative commentators and media figures.

Ben Shapiro, who runs the conservative media The Daily Wire, noted that he has also been accused of “hate speech” before for addressing transgender people according to their biological sex.

“What’s to prevent Apple or Facebook from removing my content online simply because I don’t abide by their standards?” asked during his Aug. 6 show. “This is where we get into some serious, serious issues. What exactly violates that hate speech policy?”

Social media companies have stated before that they’re unwilling to detail their policies to prevent people from exploiting loopholes.

But Shapiro pointed out the vagueness opens the door to politically-motivated suppression.

“You have too many folks on the left who decide that anything they don’t like now is hate speech,” he said.

Neutral Forum

Similar concern has been raised by conservatives about Twitter, whose “quality” search filter function appears to have suppressed political speech exclusively on the right.

A Twitter engineer even told an undercover reporter that majority of Twitter algorithms supposed to identify automated “bot” accounts actually targeted Republicans.

Ironically, Twitter appears to be the only major platform that hasn’t publicly banned Jones.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), whose account was affected by Twitter’s filtering, filed a complaint against the company with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). He said Twitter’s suppressing him constituted an illegal campaign contribution to his opponents.

Gaetz said Twitter and other social media companies have successfully averted lawsuits by declaring themselves neutral public forums that can’t be held responsible for what people post.

“Twitter … can’t say on one hand, ‘We’re neutral and thus we shouldn’t have to respond to lawsuits,’ and then, on the other hand, tell me and other outspoken conservatives that our behavior results in suppression on their platform,’” he said on Fox News on July 27. “They can’t have it both ways.”

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