Alex Jones, 9/11 activist, leads a group of demonstrators asking for a reinvestigation of the 9/11 terror attacks. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

Twitter Permanently Bans Alex Jones, InfoWars for Abusive Posts

(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. permanently banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and the account of his InfoWars website, saying content Jones posted Wednesday violates the social network’s abuse and harassment policies.

“Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope,” the company tweeted. “We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.”

The company received numerous reports from users regarding a video Jones posted of himself harassing a reporter outside of hearings with social-media executives on Capitol Hill Wednesday, according to a Twitter spokesman. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey was testifying at U.S. congressional hearings about election interference and alleged anti-conservative bias on the platform. Jones attended the hearings, speaking to media members and getting into a hallway spat with Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican. Dorsey said at the hearings that Twitter doesn’t use political ideology to make decisions and it strives to enforce its rules impartially.

Twitter has a wide range of enforcement actions that escalate if the account in question continues to violate its policies. Permanent suspension, its most severe action, removes the account from global review and prevents the person from creating new accounts. Dorsey didn’t weigh in on the action to ban Jones, and the decision was made by the standard review process, according to the Twitter spokesman.

The social-media company has been under mounting pressure to take harsher steps with Jones, who has spread false assertions that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut was a hoax. Jones had already received warnings from Twitter for violating its policies, and the most recent abuse moved his account into suspension, the company said.

A day after the Twitter ban, Apple Inc. permanently removed the Infowars app from its app store, the company told BuzzFeed News, citing its review guidelines which forbid “content that is offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, or in exceptionally poor taste”.

Last month Apple, Facebook Inc., and Google’s YouTube purged content from the right-wing conspiracy theorist for violating its policies. At the time, Twitter allowed Jones to remain on its network, saying he hadn’t violated the company’s rules, which triggered an onslaught of criticism. The company later suspended both of his accounts for a week, stopping short at that time of a permanent suspension.

Twitter has banned several high-profile accounts in the past for rule violations, including conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, conspiracy theorist and blogger Charles Johnson and rapper Azealia Banks. Some of the suspensions have fueled complaints that the platform silences conservative voices. During the middle of the hearings Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice release a statement that it’s looking into social-media companies “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”

Jones has been a loyal supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, and has previously hosted Trump on his “InfoWars” show. A devoted Twitter user, Trump has repeatedly accused social-media companies of discriminating against Republicans and conservative viewpoints.

“They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others,” Trump tweeted last month, saying his administration “won’t let that happen.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.