Facebook has removed four pages run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, explaining that the channels repeatedly violated the site’s policies against hate speech and bullying.
The decision to take down the four pages is the strongest censure of Jones’ behavior by Facebook yet. Last week, the company removed four videos shared on Jones’ channels and gave the radio host’s personal profile a 30-day suspension. However, this did not affect the output of pages run by Jones and his associates, which kept on uploading new content.
Now, though, four of these Facebook pages have been removed altogether. These include the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page, and the Infowars Nightly News Page. Visiting any of these pages now shows the message: “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now.”
In an apparently unconnected move, Apple has also removed content made by Jones. Five of Infowars’ six podcasts were removed from the iPhone maker’s iTunes and Podcasts app. The company said in a statement: “Apple does not tolerate hate speech.”
Facebook explained its decision to remove the pages in a blog post titled “Enforcing Our Community Standards.” The post makes clear that the pages were unpublished not because they shared fake news (an activity that Facebook executives have repeatedly defended), but because they violated the company’s community standards, particularly its rules against hate speech and bullying.
“While much of the discussion around Infowars has been related to false news, which is a serious issue that we are working to address by demoting links marked wrong by fact checkers and suggesting additional content, none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this,” said the blog post.
The rest of the post details how Facebook’s “strike” system works to judge which pages and individuals have broken the site’s rules enough to warrant a ban. This system has been criticized in recent months for its seemingly arbitrary and opaque nature. A recent undercover documentary detailing the work of Facebook’s moderators adding to the criticism, when it showed that the company repeatedly let far-right fringe groups exceed the usual number of strikes for bad behavior.
According to Facebook, Jones’ four pages were taken down for “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”