IW Editor’s Note: This is a PR stunt by Big Tech to tell Congress “Oh, we don’t censor anybody!” by “allowing” previously banned people back on their platforms, who are then usually banned again without public attention or are just simply shadow banned so they can’t reach as many people, much like a car stuck in neutral that’s revving up but not going anywhere.
If Trump is tired of being president, and wants to hand over the White House to someone else in 2020, then he should just ignore this issue, which at its very core is a First Amendment issue that will lead to the erosion of every other personal freedom listed in the Bill of Rights.
The only way to promote civil discourse in America is to promote open discussions between people with differing political views – a true marketplace of ideas.
YouTube head Susan Wojcicki announced earlier this week that the video-sharing site would allow some content that was “outside the mainstream, controversial or even offensive.” So, Alex Jones’ InfoWars took that as a positive sign.
InfoWars’ afternoon show The War Room relaunched its YouTube channel with a video titled “Breaking! YouTube CEO says ‘Alex Jones’ and ‘Infowars Ban Is Over.’” War Room host J. Owen Shroyer uploaded 13 videos before YouTube pulled them. In a video posted on the InfoWars site, he angrily denounced both Google and Wojcicki. Shroyer also confronted Google employees on camera at the company’s offices in Austin, Texas about its decision.
“Everyone sees the double-standard at YouTube,” Shroyer said, echoing complaints of political conservatives who claim tech platforms censor their views.
According to the Washington Post, War Room violated YouTube’s terms of service by circumventing the 2018 InfoWars ban by the site for violating its policies against hate speech. As I noted before, Alex Jones relies on associates to spread his message on social media where he is unable to operate. I reached out to Shroyer on social media and through the InfoWars site and haven’t heard back.
There was no indication in Wojcicki’s statement that InfoWars was being welcomed back. In fact, The Alphabet-owned website announced in June that it would crack down on videos that promote white supremacy, Nazism and sexism and other forms of discrimination along with content that denies “well-documented violent events” like the Holocaust and the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Jones and InfoWars are being sued by parents of Sandy Hook victims for spreading the unfounded rumor that the mass shooting was a hoax, a view his fans note he longer holds. Though Jones and his associates paint themselves as crusaders for free speech, the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee anyone the right to harass the parents of murdered children. Jones spreads other baseless conspiracy theories as well including the one claiming that the 9-11 terrorist attacks was an inside job.
YouTube and other social media platforms are under increasing pressure to do a better job policing themselves when it comes to hate speech and have fallen short in the eyes of many.
Gizmodo recently reported it was “disturbingly easy to find channels associated with hate groups on the platform.” An analysis released by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism earlier this month came to the same conclusion.
YouTube has countered that it is doing its best to scrub objectionable content from its site. However, it’s a daunting task since about 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Still, this is a technology challenge that the high-tech industry must tackle.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said Tuesday that it’s “more important than ever” for YouTube to remain an “open platform” just one day after going on a massive banning spree targeting right-wingers for so-called “hate speech.”