Google on Friday removed the Android version of the Infowars app from the Google Play online store, after comments made by Infowars founder Alex Jones about the COVID-19 pandemic were deemed false and harmful.
Google Play was that last major internet platform that provided an outlet for Infowars, which trades in right-wing conspiracy theories and fear mongering. In September 2018, Apple banned the Infowars app from the App Store, citing its violation of the policy prohibiting “offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust or in exceptionally poor taste.” Jones and Infowars also have been banned by Google’s YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Podcasts and Spotify for violating policies on hate speech and harassment.
The news of Google’s ban on the Infowars Android app was first reported by Wired, which said the removal came in response to a video in which Jones “disputed the need for social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine efforts meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.”
“Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store.”
Jones, in a video response on Infowars’ website about Google’s removal of the app, said, “It doesn’t make me mad that they’re doing this to me. It’s that they’re doing it to all of us… Modern book burning is now the default position.” Jones also said, “Even if I’m wrong about something, I have a right, you have a right to judge it, and tune in or tune out.”
As noted in Wired’s report, New York Attorney General Letitia James on March 12 sent Jones a cease-and-desist notice, ordering Infowars to stop and marketing products as a treatment or cure for the coronavirus. “As the coronavirus continues to pose serious risks to public health, Alex Jones has spewed outright lies and has profited off of New Yorkers’ anxieties,” James said in a statement. Per the New York AG, Jones fraudulently claimed that Superblue Toothpaste “kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range.” The CDC says there currently are no FDA-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.
According to a post Friday on the Infowars site, Jones said the ban came after he “discussed the use of hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and strong antibiotics to treat coronavirus.” Jones pointed out that the treatments he promoted have been “popularized by President Donald Trump, and also discussed by [Fox News hosts] Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham,” according to the post.
The U.S. now has the most confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the world, with 104,837 as of Saturday morning, and 1,711 total deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering’s coronavirus tracker.
Jones’ final “deplatforming” from all major internet services comes after years of controversial and false statements. His most notorious claim has been that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut — in which 20 children and six adults were killed — was a “giant hoax” perpetrated by “crisis actors.” Jones has been sued for defamation by several family members of the Sandy Hook victims, and to date a judge has ordered Jones and Infowars to pay $150,000 to families in legal fees. In a court deposition last year, Jones said it was a “form of psychosis” that caused him to believe events like the Sandy Hook massacre were staged.
The Infowars host, among other comments, also has has alleged the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks and said that NFL players protesting during the national anthem were “kneeling to white genocide.”