Following similar action taken by Apple, Facebook and Spotify, YouTube banned multiple channels operated by Infowars and its founder Alex Jones Monday morning.
Visitors of Jones’ main YouTube channel were greeted with a message noting that the account had been for “terminated for violating YouTube’s community guidelines.” A channel previously hosting a live stream of his show as well as an “Infowars News” channel were also taken offline.
YouTube had been a major distribution platform for Jones, who had joined the video platform all the way back in 2008. Before it was shut down Monday, his main channel had more than 2.4 million subscribers. His videos had attracted close to 1.6 billion views.
YouTube had removed a handful of videos posted by Jones for violating the site’s community guidelines last month. However, the deletion of his channel didn’t happen until other tech platforms stepped up their own efforts against Jones. Over the weekend, Apple removed almost all of the podcasts produced by Infowars.
On Monday, Facebook followed suit by deleting some of the pages hosted by Infowars. Facebook also put Jones into a penalty box, preventing him from posting any updates to the service for 30 days.
Jones and Infowars have frequently posted conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as the Sandy Hook school shooting. More recently, Jones ran afoul of YouTube’s community standards for posting hateful speech about Muslims and transgender people, as well as posting a video that displayed child endangerment.
Infowars had a somewhat different take on the motives behind the removals Monday, accusing tech companies of trying to sway public opinion. “Infowars is widely credited with having played a key role in electing Donald Trump,” an article posted on Infowars.com proclaimed. “By banning Infowars, big tech is engaging in election meddling just three months before crucial mid-terms.”
In reality, the fact that tech companies acted now, after tolerating Infowars on their platforms for years, has much more to do with mounting outside pressure. One of the groups that put a spotlight on Facebook, YouTube and Apple helping to distribute Infowars content had been Sleeping Giants, a progressive activism group that has also been organizing advertiser boycotts against other far-right media outlets.
Earlier on Monday, the group singled out YouTube for not doing enough to prevent Infowars from distributing hate speech on its platform.