My new column is live in The Drum:
Despite all his rage, is Alex Jones still just a rat in a cage?
In August, Facebook removed four pages run by Jones, a vile conspiracy theorist, and his company, Infowars. YouTube closed his account. So did Pinterest. Apple banned several audio streams. Spotify cut a major podcast. Twitter suspended Jones’ account for one week.
Jones was livid. “Tell folks, it’s the most censored program in the world for a reason,” he said in a video. “Jones is dialled in! Jones knows who the enemy! He understands the globalist program and he knows how to take action!”
(Remember: Jones stated that the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks were a conspiracy and the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Connecticut in which 20 children and six adults were killed was a hoax. And note that “globalist” is considered racist code for “Jew.”)
The banning highlighted the issue of free speech, media law and social media company policies. Jones may think of himself as trapped like a rat in a censored cage of his own private media now that social platforms have banned him, but it is Twitter’s recent livestream of a Smashing Pumpkins concert that will also be a bigger turning point in the debate.
The removal of Jones and the airing of the musical performance, among other recent events, show that it is only a matter of when, not if, social networks will effectively – if not also legally – be media companies rather than neutral tech platforms.