After over a week of controversy and pressure, Facebook removed four pages run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from its platform. According to a blog post published Monday morning, Facebook removed the Alex Jones Channel, Alex Jones, InfoWars, and Infowars Nightly News pages for “repeatedly posting content over the past several days” that violates the company’s Community Standards.
“Since then, more content from the same Pages has been reported to us,” the blog post states. “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.”
The four pages in question haven’t been totally axed from Facebook; they’ve just been unpublished so that no one can view them. Jones has the opportunity to file an appeal to get his pages restored, but if he loses the appeal (or doesn’t appeal at all), Facebook will permanently remove the pages from its platform.
Facebook’s action comes after Apple removed five of the six InfoWars podcasts from its platforms, including iTunes. While Apple didn’t host Jones’ content, anyone with an iPhone or iPad could find those podcast episodes. Now with this removal, all of those podcast episodes cannot be searched for, listened to, or downloaded from Apple’s platforms. Last week, Spotify took down numerous episodes of InfoWars’ and Alex Jones’ podcasts from its platform as well, but nearly one year’s worth of episodes remain streamable on Spotify.
Alex Jones had already received a 30-day ban from Facebook for posting content that violated the company’s Community Standards. Facebook attempts to explain its violation policies in its blog post, stating that both personal accounts and pages receive strikes when forbidden content gets posted. After surpassing an undisclosed number of strikes, the page is unpublished. Following this structure, it’s unclear how many strikes Jones and his pages have received since Facebook removed four videos from his pages about a week ago.
But not all strikes are created equal. Facebook says that the severity of the punishment may vary depending on the type of content posted. “For example, some content is so bad that posting it just once means we would remove the account immediately,” Facebook wrote in the blog post. “In the case of other violations, we may warn someone the first time they break our Community Standards.”
YouTube has a similar strike system with slightly clearer rules: if a channel receives three strikes for violating the company’s community guidelines within three months, the channel will be removed from YouTube. The company has other punishments that come along with strikes as well, like a temporary ban on live streaming. However, each individual strike expires after three months after being issued.
Facebook has come under fire of the past few weeks for allowing content creators like Jones to publish fake news, falsities, and hateful content freely on its platform. The company may have a definition for hate speech and types of hateful content, but its decision to allow conspiracy-theory content to live on its platform frustrates many users. The company reminded users in its most recent blog post that “wrong and untrue” statements are allowed on Facebook, while content that “attacks or dehumanizes others” is not.