Spotify has pulled several Alex Jones podcasts from its service for violating its hate speech policy. Should we take a moment of silence to reflect on the loss? No? Thought not.
The American radio show host and owner of Infowars.com, a website devoted to conspiracy theories and far-right fake news, has previously caused controversy with his rampant opposition to gun control and his ‘New World Order’ theory – think: 9/11 was an inside job and the moon landing was fake. Perhaps most appalling, though, are his claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a government set-up perpetrated by child actors. He was also accused, in 2018, of antisemitism, anti-black racism, and sexual harassment by two former Infowars employees.
It should come as no surprise, then, that some episodes of his podcast, “The Alex Jones Show”, have been pulled for violating Spotify’s hateful content policy, as first noted by New York Times writer Ben Sisario. While the platform hasn’t actually specified what the individual episodes were removed for, a spokesperson put out a statement saying: “We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community. Spotify can confirm it has removed specific episodes of ‘The Alex Jones Show’ podcast for violating our hate content policy.”
Spotify says it is removing an unspecified number of Alex Jones podcast episodes for violating its hate speech policy, after user uproar.— Ben Sisario (@sisario) August 1, 2018
Obviously, censorship isn’t always a good way to go about confronting ideas we don’t like, especially when the decision is in the hands of big corporations. Facebook has made some pretty sketchy moves in the name of combating ‘hate speech’ (see: the women banned for writing things like “men are trash” late last year). And earlier this year, Spotify itself had to backtrack on a decision to ban various artists such as R. Kelly and XXXTentacion, for their allegedly hateful actions outside the platform, after accusations that the streaming company was playing “judge and jury”.
But Jones’ speech strays over into dangerous territories all too often; his feverish rhetoric is at times indistinguishable from an incitement to “hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” which explicitly contravenes Spotify’s policy (and US law). Moreover, his speech has often prompted disastrous offline consequences, such as the online harassment and death threats sent to parents of a child who died during the Sandy Hook shooting.
While his ranting and raving may live on in the remaining Spotify podcasts, we can confidently say good riddance to the rest.