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CENT Twitter permanently bans Alex Jones and Infowars - CNET


A close-up shot of Alex Jones squinting

Alex Jones listened in on a Senate hearing where Twitter's CEO testified. Congressional Quarterly/Getty

Alex Jones's expulsion from the biggest social networks of the English-speaking internet appears complete. 

Twitter said ihttps://twitter.com/TwitterSafety/status/1037804427992686593#link=%7B%22role%22:%22standard%22,%22href%22:%22https://twitter.com/TwitterSafety/status/1037804427992686593%22,%22target%22:%22%22,%22linkText%22:%22In%20a%20series%20of%20tweets%22,%22absolute%22:%22%22%7D Thursday that it was banning the primary accounts of the the far-right commentator and his media outlet Infowars, which are known for spreading virulent conspiracy theories. The ban includes both Twitter itself and Periscope, the live video app owned by the company. Twitter said the terminated accounts violated its abusive behavior policy.

Screenshot by CNET

"Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope," the Twitter Safety account said in a 

. "We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts' past violations."

While other Alex Jones and Infowars-affiliated accounts like @newswars still appear to be live on Twitter, the company says it will consider banning other accounts if they're used to circumvent the Infowars ban.

The suspensions underscore a wider reckoning for tech giants, as they grapple with the implications of unbridled free speech on their platforms. Abuse, scandals linked to overreaching data collection, and election tampering amplified by social networks have some of the most powerful companies on the defensive as lawmakers and the public question their competence in handling the responsibilities of their power. 

Twitter's latest move comes after Facebook and Google's YouTube kicked Jones's primary accounts off their platforms last month, amid a wave of suspensions by Apple's iTunes, PinterestLinkedInVimeo and Spotify

At the time, Twitter suspended Jones for a week by putting his account in a read-only mode, meaning he could see the tweets of other, but not tweet, retweet or like posts. Dorsey appeared on conservative commentator Sean Hannity's radio show last month to argue that InfoWars hadn't violated Twitter's rules. "We'll enforce if he does," Dorsey said at the time. "And we'll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren't artificially amplified."

A representative for Jones and Infowars didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment. 

A Twitter representative said that it is assessing accounts linked to Infowars that are still active "on a case-by-case basis" and that it will be on guard in case those channels "are utilized as a way to get around the ban." The company wouldn't detail about whether it would take broader actions against other accounts with histories similar to that of Jones and Infowars, other than to say it reviews content that is flagged and "if we find violations we'll take action." Twitter didn't specify what triggered the permenant suspensions Thursday, other than to say that videos were posted containing rule-violating content. 

jones-congress-hearing

jones-congress-hearing

When he wasn't stalking the halls of Congress, Jones sat in to listen to part of Dorsey's testimony Wednesday. Richard Nieva/CNET

But according to statements from Twitter given to The Daily Beast and Buzzfeed, an Infowars video posted on Twitter of Jones insulting CNN reporter Oliver Darcy on Wednesday was the final violation of the company's terms. Darcy originally stoked the most recent reckoning about social networks' treatment of Jones and Infowars that ultimately concluded with the widespread bans. 

Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was grilled by Congressional lawmakers for hours, with much of the afternoon's questioning focused on whether Twitter has a liberal bias that suppresses conservative voices. Jones sat in on one of the hearings where Dorsey testified, and Jones prowled Capitol Hill's hallways, followed by his camera crew, for much of the day. 

Tech companies have long been accused of letting liberal leanings filter into their products, resulting in alleged censorship and suppression. It's been a favorite charge leveled against tech by political figures, including Jones and President Donald Trump. Trump spent much of last week accusing Google, Facebook and Twitter of political bias. He tweeted that Google's search results are "RIGGED," saying the company is "suppressing voices of Conservatives."

"I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people," he told reporters later that day. "Google and Twitter and Facebook, they're really treading on very, very troubled territory, and they have to be careful."

Wednesday, Dorsey rejected accusations of bias. 

"We don't consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions. Period," he said. "Impartiality is our guiding principle."

Originally published at 1:59 p.m. PT. 
Updated at 2:23 p.m. PT: With further details of the ban. 
Updated at 2:49 p.m. PT: With Twitter response and further details, context.

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