(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
(CBS News) — Facebook has removed four pages for Infowars and its founder, right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, citing violations of its hate speech and bullying policies.
The social-media giant said Monday it took down the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page after some users complained about the content last week. Facebook had already banned Jones for 30 days because he had violated its community standards. Separately, YouTube said on Monday it had pulled Alex Jones’ channel for repeatedly violating its policies.
“More content from the same Pages has been reported to us,” Facebook wrote in a post on its corporate blog to explain the decision to pull the material. “Upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”
Facebook’s crackdown comes as the company faces pressure from lawmakers and consumer advocates to tighten its policies, ranging from improving privacy standards to monitoring its content for false or malicious information.
Facebook isn’t alone in pulling content from Jones and Infowars. Apple has also pulled several Infowars podcasts from iTunes, YouTube has followed suit with Infowars videos, while Spotify from its service.
“What it reflects is a slow realization that the platforms are megaphones to fuel extremist ideas,” said Keegan Hankes, research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, who focuses on far right extremist propaganda online. The decision to enforce policies, he added, “has been a long time coming.”
Hankes added that he is “not surprised” that Twitter continues to allow Jones on its platform. “If they were to ban Alex Jones,” he said, he’d question why the company doesn’t ban “outright white supremacists, including those who have participated in violent rallies.”
In a Monday blog post on Infowars.com, editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson claimed the ban from Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and Apple “was a coordinated effort and has nothing to do with these platforms enforcing ‘hate speech’ rules.” He alleged that the actions represent an effort to “hide and bury conservative content.”
However, Facebook and Apple still had conservative content on their platforms as of Monday morning, including pages and podcasts from conservative-leaning outlets such as Fox News and the American Enterprise Institute.
Facebook didn’t disclose what specific content violated its policies, although it noted the decision wasn’t prompted by “false news.”
“While much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news, which is a serious issue that we are working to address by demoting links marked wrong by fact checkers and suggesting additional content, none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this,” it noted.
Several families from the Sandy Hook massacre are suing Jones for defamation over his claims that the 2012 school shooting was a hoax. The lawsuit was heard last week in Texas, with Jones’ attorney arguing that his clients’ assertions are protected by free speech.