Twenty tweets were deleted from the accounts of Alex Jones and InfoWars on Thursday after a report published by CNN detailed posts from those accounts that seemed to violate Twitter’s terms of service.
CNN had confronted Twitter with the tweets, citing them in questioning why the social media platform hadn’t yet removed Jones and InfoWars from the site. Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and other platforms have already banned Jones and InfoWars due to flagrant displays of hatred and intimidation toward others.
Before the story published, Del Harvey, Twitter vice president for trust and safety, wrote in an email to employees that if any content like what got Jones banned elsewhere had appeared on Twitter, it would result in his suspension on their site as well.
“It's worth noting that at least some of the content Alex Jones published on other platforms (e.g., Facebook and YouTube) that led to them taking enforcement against him would have also violated our policies had he posted it on Twitter,” Harvey said. “Had he done so, we would have taken action against him as well.”
And earlier this week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended his decision to keep Jones and InfoWars on the site.
“We know that's hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn't violated our rules,” Dorsey said.
Yet the reporting from CNN demonstrated that the same content that got him kicked off of those sites had also appeared on Twitter.
After the article by CNN posted, a spokesperson from Twitter said they would review the questionable tweets. But before any action could take place, those tweets mysteriously disappeared — an action that Twitter denies having taken themselves, suggesting that Jones and InfoWars probably removed the posts themselves.
Jones has frequently used his site to spread horrifyingly disgusting conspiracy theories, including his belief that the Sandy Hook school shooting (in which dozens of 5- and 6-year-olds and their teachers were killed by a mass shooter) was a hoax, and that victims and their families were so-called “crisis actors.
Jones has also made viciously verbal attacks against transgender individuals, Muslims, and immigrants on his show, and called David Hogg, an outspoken survivor of a school shooting in Florida this year, a Nazi.
The reporting by CNN to uncover these tweets is commendable, but it shouldn’t be up to news organizations to expose these problems. Plenty of people have pointed out Jones’ vile behavior long before even other sites started removing his content.
The responsibility ultimately rests with Twitter. The network should be more vigilant in enforcing its own rules and acknowledging where it's made mistakes in the past. They should now reconsider the reasons why they’re keeping the bigoted and hateful content from Jones and InfoWars on their platform and carefully ponder what their next moves should be.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters