I do NOT like Alex Jones and his Infowars website. I find many things that Jones says questionable, and disturbing. But this is no reason to "de-platform" Jones.
In a tweet, Jones confirmed that Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and Apple had completely unpublished and/or removed his professional pages and podcasts. "All four companies stated that Jones' inflammatory statements about Muslims, immigrants, members of the LGBT community, and other groups violated their terms of service," Reason reports.
"We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe," Facebook said in a statement. "It's why we have Community Standards and remove anything that violates them, including hate speech that attacks or dehumanizes others. Earlier today, we removed four Pages belonging to Alex Jones for repeatedly posting content over the past several days that breaks those Community Standards."
Contrary to other major social media platforms, Twitter hasn't given up to witch-hunting demands, and hasn't banned Jones (yet). "We didn’t suspend Alex Jones or Infowars yesterday," said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a tweet. "We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified."
"If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us."
Reason comments: "Incredibly reasonable, right? Of course, nearly everyone was upset." It's easy to predict that Twitter will likely give in to the witch-hunters as well.
In a previous post, Reason made an important point:
"Policing hate on a very large scale is quite difficult given the frequently subjective nature of offense; we risk de-platforming legitimate viewpoints that are unpopular but deserve to be heard."
As I said at the beginning, I don't like Jones. Therefore, I don't read him and I don't listen to him. But, paraphrasing a wise statement often attributed to Voltaire, I disapprove of what Jones says, but I will defend to the death his right to say it.
Perhaps you dislike Jones and are happy to see him de-platformed. But think of this: If cultural fashions shift (and they always do), tomorrow they could de-platform someone that you like. Or you yourself.
A frequently heard counterpoint is that, while Jones can say whatever he wants, Facebook doesn't have to give Jones a platform. I totally agree: I think a private company lice Facebook (or Apple, or Google) should have the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason or for no reason.
Decentralization is the solution
The internet was meant to be decentralized, with many websites in healthy competition for the attention of the readers. In such an ideal world, those who want to follow Jones would follow his websites, and those who don't want to follow Jones would stay away.
But today, in the real world, a handful of large corporations like Facebook and Google completely control the internet. Like it or not (I don't), these large corporations provide the standard platforms that everyone must use. These companies seem to claim the right to tell us what we must think, and censor non-compliant political opinions.
Alex Jones is very popular, and his followers will continue to consume his content directly from Infowars and other websites in Jones' network. The ban won't trouble Jones much. In fact, it is boosting the number of Jones' fans. Jones reacted to the news by tweeting a picture of himself holding a glass of champagne next to his app, Reason reports. A caption said, "When they try to ban you, but you keep on winning."
But Google, Facebook and Apple can, and do, make it impossible for less popular voices to find and connect to an audience. I don't think any company (or any government) should be allowed to have that much power.
The solution is not to complain against what private companies do with their platforms, but to build alternative platforms that can't be censored. In a fully decentralized internet powered by blockchain and BitTorrent technologies, hopefully coming soon, no company and no government will be able to de-platform anyone.
Picture by Sean P. Anderson from Dallas, TX, USA - Alex Jones, CC BY 2.0.
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Crypto Insider Editor Giulio Prisco is a writer specialized in science, technology and business. He is persuaded that crypto has the potential to bring disruptive positive changes to the internet and society at large.