Well, Alex Jones' week hasn't started out very well. Facebook removed four of the pages on which he spewed his vicious lies for violating their community standards, which bars "hate speech that attacks or dehumanizes others." If I may be so bold as to speak for the rest of humanity, what the hell took Facebook so long?
Facebook announced the removal of the pages on its news page today, explaining its rather complicated process for removing first content on pages, then entire pages themselves, which is what happened in the case of Jones. On Friday, videos deemed in violation of the hate speech and bullying policies were removed from the four pages, and Jones himself was put in a 30-day ban. Over the weekend, more content was posted on those pages that violated the hate speech and graphic violence policies. So, the entire pages were pulled down.
We're glad, and all, but in addition to how pathetically long this type of content is allowed to remain up, I would like to ask why my friends of color get put in Facebook jail for simply using the phrase "white people" when discussing issues of white supremacy and racism in their posts. Boy, THAT shit gets taken down lickety-split-quick... but I guess I digress. We know their community standards are racist, and ProPublica backs us up on that.
Anywho, back to Alex Jones, Facebook wasn't the only one to deal him that blow. His podcasts were removed from Apple and Spotify, and videos removed from YouTube. According to USA Today,
[T]he entirety of hundreds of episodes of "The Alex Jones Show" had been removed from music streaming service Spotify.
Those takedowns came just hours after Apple late Sunday removed all episodes of the show hosted by Jones and four other Infowars-related podcasts from Apple's iTunes and Podcast apps.
And later Monday, YouTube removed Jones and Infowars' channels from the video sharing service, with some pages labeled with the declaration the account was terminated for violations of community guidelines.
While this seems to be, as my colleague, Jamie says, a full-on nuking of his hate, there is a larger discussion to be had about what Kara Swisher coined the "digital arms race." She's referring to the establishment of technology with no thought or effort given to how it could be misused, or how it can and should be kept under control. Not only does this apply to Facebook, but also Twitter, Google, Apple, and YouTube. Everywhere Alex Jones and his cretinous cohorts spread their verbal and psychological warfare. In the clip above, Swisher tells Stephanie Ruhle about the human resources (in addition to financial) needed — from the very beginning— that would have been necessary for controlling disinformation, hate and bullying on these platforms. Resources the heads of these companies showed no interest in devoting then, or, frankly, now. They're doing better, Swisher, says, but the most telling insight comes when she describes her sit-down with Mark Zuckerburg.
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SWISHER: I think what's happened is, they've allowed it to grow so much and get away from them. It's an incredibly difficult task. And, my question, I think for Mark during the podcast I did, was that was he capable of understanding his power? Was he -- was he capable of understanding the depth of the problem? Did he feel bad about it? He couldn't actually answer that question, which was interesting.
Zuckerburg could not say if he felt bad about it. That's interesting indeed, and pretty unsurprising for the dude who created it so he could rate the hotness of the chicks at Harvard and ended up facilitating the destruction of Democracy, but, hey. It just reinforces what a beloved and revered teacher of mine once said:
"Technology advances faster than our wisdom in knowing how to use it."
I'm reminded of this nearly ever hour of every day.