Conspiracy theorist and host of InfoWars, Alex Jones, was issued a seven-day suspension by Twitter for violating the social media company’s rules against inciting violence.
The decision, according to The New York Times, was made after Jones tweeted a link to a video calling for supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready against the media and “fake news.” The one-week suspension will prevent the alt-right radio host from tweeting or retweeting, though he will be able to browse Twitter. The Twitter account for his “Infowars” show was not affected.
Twitter CEO Jake Dorsey called the suspension a “timeout,” during an interview with The Hill. Dorsey stated:
“I feel any suspension, whether it be a permanent or a temporary one, makes someone think about their actions and their behaviors.”
Civics Lesson: Conspiracy Theories
A conspiracy is a secret plan to achieve a specific outcome. Conspiracy theories originally meant a pre-meditated conclusion, or the idea that an event or phenomenon was the result of a conspiracy. Since the mid-1960s, however, it has often been used to denote ridiculous or irrational speculations.
The most dangerous thing about conspiracy theories is the fact that they are almost airtight—because every debunking or piece of evidence against them will be viewed as an attempt to “misinform the public.” The lack of evidence for it is viewed as a government cover-up rather than the logical consideration that the conspiracy in question might not actually exist.
Dorsey went on to say that the social media outlet has been consistent in its enforcement of rules in Jones’ case, “while other companies have been a little bit inconsistent.” Not only does the suspension apply to Jones’s Twitter account, but it is also enforced upon his Periscope accounts.
Jones, a political provocateur, has been immensely criticized for promoting debunked theories. For example, the far-right pundit said the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders were staged, and that the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting were merely just actors paid to put on a tear-jerking show for everyone.
As reported by The Hill, Twitter immediately told Jones to delete his offending posts, all of which later disappeared from the accounts days later.
President Donald Trump reacted to Jones’ one-week suspension in a series of tweets, accusing social media platforms of “totally discriminating” against conservative voices and called censorship a “very dangerous thing.”
The president is asserting that everyone should be able to participate in the online discussion, but some might see this as highly hypocritical considering his constant efforts to shut down liberal media outlets by referring to them as “the enemy of the people.”
Despite the president’s opinion, Alex Jones has been banned from posting on multiple social platforms including Apple, Facebook, and Spotify.