Alex Jones, the founder, owner and star of conspiracy site Infowars, has been kicked off YouTube.
The Alex Jones Channel, Infowars’ biggest YouTube account with 2.4 million subscribers, now simply bears the message ‘this account has been terminated for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.’ YouTube has a ‘three strikes‘ policy that terminates accounts after three violations of its community guidelines within three months. Its removal of Alex Jones’ channel follows Apple, Spotify and Facebook all removing Infowars content from their platforms.
Earlier this year, the channel had racked up ‘strikes’ after posting multiple clips about the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at a Florida high school that falsely alleged the survivors were ‘crisis actors.’ YouTube has a policy forbidding malicious harassment and bullying.
In a statement, YouTube said that all users agree to comply with its terms of service and community guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube. ‘When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts,’ the company said.
Infowars representatives didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
While the ban cuts off a popular way to watch Infowars’ videos and a revenue stream, Jones’ outlet makes most of its money by selling nutritional supplements on its own website, where viewers can also find other versions of the channel’s videos. Jones has been widely criticized for promoting untrue, virulent hypotheses about tragic events like the 2001 terrorist attacks on World Trade Center in New York that killed nearly 3,000 people and the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 26 students and staff.
In February, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that consistently enforcing its ‘three strikes’ rule is important, regardless of the outcry. For example, YouTube star Logan Paul wasn’t kicked off the site for posting a video in December of a suicide victim in Japan — despite wide public backlash — because that counted as one strike, Wojcicki said. Instead, YouTube temporarily suspended ads from Paul’s channel and removed him from a preferential advertising group, cutting off a lucrative revenue stream.
Criticism against online platforms like Facebook and Google-owned YouTube has ratcheted up in recent months, as they seemingly fail to remove high-profile hoaxes and unfounded conspiracy theories about tragedies before they reach hundreds of thousands of people. In February, YouTube’s top-trending section featured a video falsely accusing David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, of being a crisis actor, or someone paid to pretend to have been affected by a tragedy for political gain. The video was viewed more than 200,000 times before YouTube removed it, but not before it became the service’s No. 1 top-trending clip.