(Photo courtesy of vox.com)
The banning of Alex Jones from the largest social media platforms, within 12 hours of each other, is being considered by many conservatives to be a coordinated purge. Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars editor-at-large, has stated it is an abuse of power. One alternative to YouTube, Real.Video, a platform promoting freedom of speech, gave Jones an opportunity to discuss his recent bannings. Jones is calling the actions of Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify a “concerted plan to erase my electronic identity,” and is calling mainstream media “engines of censorship.”
Although Jones has pushed the envelope on practically every topic imaginable with his conspiracy theories and hoaxes, what actually ignited the removal of his shows and the man, himself, from social media was, after warnings, repeated violation of the platforms’ Hate Speech policies.
Many people are outraged over the actions banning Alex Jones, and consider this to be in violation of his, and their, Constitutional guarantee to freedom of speech. They ardently believe the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees everyone unlimited free speech, but thanks to the Supreme Court and its many decisions, this simply is not the case.
What has evolved over the years is shelter from hate speech for particular classes of people. Federally protected categories are:
Religion or creed
National origin or ancestry
Physical or mental disability
Attacks on these characteristics are considered violent and dehumanizing when statements are made which make claims of inferiority, demand harm, exclusion, or segregation, or can be construed as racist, mysogynist, or homophobic.
It also is important to remember defamation is not protected under freedom of speech. It is the publishing of a statement that is false, although proffered as fact, and is harmful to the reputation of another person or organization. Defamation is an accountable act, and can be pursued in court of law. Jones is currently embroiled in three defamation lawsuits from repeatedly stating the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings were fake, and actors were used to play it out. He believes the government was behind the shootings to push forward their attacks on the Second Amendment.
If one has listened to any of Alex Jones shows, it is not difficult to see where his rhetoric has fallen short of the No Hate Speech Rule. On platforms where users agree to comply with their Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, and warnings were issued, it is not a matter of purging, nor censorship. Private companies who establish standards have every right to enforce their standards when someone refuses to comply.
In the final analysis, hate speech is not only repugnant, it is unacceptable. In the cyber world of social media, if one wishes to participate on a platform where standards of decency have been established, and agreed to, it is called consequences when there is failure to comply, and corrective measures must be taken. It is a costly lesson, but one which all members of a civilized society, sooner or later, must learn.