YouTube’s penalizing of Infowars, a notorious source of conspiracies and misinformation, is the latest development in the ongoing challenge internet platforms face in trying to balance free speech with enforcing standards to block hateful and disturbing content.
In two of the Infowars videos deleted by YouTube, Jones railed against Muslims and asserted that they were taking over control of European countries. Another video, titled “How To Prevent Liberalism,” depicted a man shoving a young boy to the ground, while in the fourth video Jones compared the creators of a show featuring animated drag queens to Satanists.
“We have long-standing policies against child endangerment and hate speech,” YouTube said in a statement. “We apply our policies consistently according to the content in the videos, regardless of the speaker or the channel.”
The Infowars violation of YouTube policies count as one so-called “community strike.” Channels that receive three strikes within 90 days are subject to termination, per the video platform’s rules. In addition, channels that receive a strike are suspended from live-streaming for 90 days “or until the associated issue(s) are resolved.”
In a post on Infowars’ website titled “Sharia-Compliant YouTube Removes Videos Criticizing Islamic Immigration,” the site wrote, “YouTube could have simply slapped an age restriction on the videos but instead leapt straight to a copyright strike, further illustrating how this is part of a wider assault to remove the Alex Jones Channel.”
Meanwhile, Facebook has recently come under fire for not taking steps to suspend Infowars from its platform. The right-wing outlet’s bizarre assertions have included claiming that the deadly shooting spree Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 was a hoax.
On Wednesday, Facebook execs were grilled at the Television Critics Association summer tour about why Infowars was included in the Facebook Watch section. In response, Facebook VP of product Fidji Simo said, “I find Infowars absolutely atrocious. That being said, we have the hard job of trying to find a sense of balance between freedom of expression and safety.”
In videos posted Tuesday on YouTube and Facebook, Jones called Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, a pedophile and threatened to shoot him. The YouTube video has been removed; Facebook said the video did not violate its policies.
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