Twitter puts curbs on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

Twitter puts curbs on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones
Picture showing a computer screen displaying the Twitter account of Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones taken on August 15, 2018 in Washington DC. — AFP pic

MICHIGAN, Aug 16 — Twitter said yesterday it was putting curbs on the account of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones after he called on his supporters to take up “battle rifles” to fight internet censorship.

The social network’s move affected the personal account of Jones, who operates the Infowars website, which has disputed the veracity of the September 11 attacks, the Sandy Hook school massacre and other events.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey told NBC News that “we put him in a timeout,” which resulted in “removing his ability to tweet for a time period.”

Dorsey, who had previously rejected calls to ban Jones and Infowars, said the move was “consistent” with Twitter’s policies and that a suspension “makes someone think about their actions.”

According to a Twitter email to AFP, Jones’s account is not suspended but “has limited functionality,” as part of an enforcement effort that requires tweets violating Twitter rules to be deleted.

Media reports said Jones’s account was in read-only mode for seven days, allowing him to browse but not to tweet or retweet.

Dorsey told the Washington Post in a separate interview that Twitter was looking at a broader review of how it handles misinformation and abusive conduct on the platform, possibly including the labeling of automated accounts or “bots.”

“The most important thing that we can do is we look at the incentives that we’re building into our product,” Dorsey told the newspaper.

“Because they do express a point of view of what we want people to do — and I don’t think they are correct anymore.”

Jones claims ‘censorship’

Jones said in a video message late Tuesday that Twitter was “suspending, and may shut down completely” his account.

Jones claimed that the move came “because I violated rules in a video that I shot last night saying that Trump should do something about the censorship of the internet.”

In a video on Monday on Twitter-owned Periscope, Jones told his supporters “it’s time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag… So, people need to have their battle rifles and everything ready at their bedsides and you got to be ready because the media is so disciplined in their deception.”

His Infowars account on Twitter was not affected, and was actively tweeting about the move yesterday.

Infowars tweeted that the suspension “comes after an intense and obsessive campaign by a CNN reporter who appears to be spending every waking hour trying to get Jones banned.”

Apple, Facebook, Spotify and YouTube have all banned Jones on the grounds that he engages in hate speech.

Dorsey drew criticism last week for continuing to allow Jones to use the platform, arguing that he had not broken Twitter’s rules.

Among the conspiracy theories Jones has peddled are charges that the US government was behind numerous terrorist attacks, including the September 11, 2001 strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Several days ago, Facebook removed four videos Jones posted that the group said violated its policy on hate speech.

Jones responded by posting more content on other pages, prompting the social media giant to suspend his four main pages.

Facebook stressed that it was the violent language used by Jones, rather than his conspiracy theories, that prompted the move. — AFP

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