Even though the internet is aflame with controversy over the coordinated purge of Alex Jones and InfoWars from Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple, there is no real transparency over their decision and the process by which it was made.
Alex Jones and InfoWars have been top Twitter trends for hours, and even some left-wing journalists like Michael Tracey are decrying Silicon Valley’s Masters of the Universe appointing themselves the arbiters of free speech on the web.
But Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube have offered, at most, only copy and paste explanations for why they banned InfoWars content from their platforms — or why, after months of pressure from the Democrats and CNN, they all came to the same decision on the same day. Questions about transparency have a much broader scope that just the case of InfoWars and Alex Jones. Beyond the banning of other individuals such as Tommy Robinson, the same questions apply to a whole host of actions by the Masters of the Universe, including partnering with foreign governments to shut down accounts, shadowbanning users to limit the scope of their engagement, and mass user purges.
Breitbart News sent the following questions to Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple earlier today, and have yet to receive a real answer for most of them. Apple and YouTube chose to provide the same canned statement they provided to all other media outlets who contacted them, while Facebook and Spotify ignored our request entirely.
THE QUESTIONS SILICON VALLEY WON’T ANSWER
1) What content specifically from InfoWars/Alex Jones was found to be”hate speech” and otherwise rule breaking?
InfoWars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson confirmed to Breitbart News that none of the tech giants that targeted InfoWars and Alex Jones over the past 24 hours pointed to specific content that violated their terms of service.
2) When was the decision to ban them made? What changed over the course of a few days from when you defended not banning Infowars content?
Just a few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg defended InfoWars in an interview, saying: ” “The approach that we’ve taken to false news is not to say, you can’t say something wrong on the Internet… Everyone gets things wrong, and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.”
So what changed, why suddenly, and why concurrently with most other major platforms?
3) Who made the decision to take down Infowars?
It’s unlikely that the decision to ban InfoWars was taken by a rank-and-file content reviewer.
4) Will you provide clear guidelines on “hate speech” including defining hate speech in a manner that is clear to all users?
When pressed by a member of Congress earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that he couldn’t define “hate speech.” Yet that is the reason that Facebook and other platforms gave for banning InfoWars and Alex Jones today. Do they now have a definition? If so, what is it?
5) How does big tech plan to manage the incoming wave of demands to censor and remove content from other conservative sites?
Like this one, for example:
These companies (Facebook, Apple, YouTube, etc) will remove Alex Jones #InfoWars (and I agree) from their content offerings but not a know sexual predator? #MuteRKelly. RT if you are confused about how seriously they take sexual assault #TimesupWOC
— Hilary Rosen (@hilaryr) August 6, 2018
6) Did Facebook/YouTube/Apple/Spotify communicate or coordinate with Google/YouTube, Apple, Spotify, or any other tech platform that recently banned InfoWars content prior to the takedown of Alex Jones and InfoWars’ content? Did any representative or employee of those companies reach out to Facebook/YouTube/Apple/Spotify before they undertook similar bans?
There was no apparent catalyzing event immediately prior to the censorship.
Here are the responses Breitbart News received from two of the companies contacted in their entirety.
All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube. When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.
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. 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 other companies contacted by Breitbart News did not respond.
On a day that has left evening left-wingers like the HuffPost asking “why now?” the one thing that is clear is that the tech Masters of the Universe have some explaining to do.