Free Speech and Alex Jones

By Michael J. Montalvo

 

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms have banned accounts belonging to Alex Jones for violating their terms and conditions, which includes what they have deemed to be hate speech.

If you are unfamiliar with Jones, I’ll give you some context. He is a far-right radio show host and a conspiracy theorist who runs Infowars, a website devoted to his views. He rants and raves on his radio show about pro-gun rights, the correlation between vaccines and autism, topics that vilify the LGBTQ community and other tirades.

As you can see, his topics can be highly sensitive and his opinions highly offensive. It only makes sense he would cause controversy and outrage.

That being said, I can understand why people might be angry about his platforms getting taken down. If it were my views and ideas being blocked by a big tech company, I would be mad as well. Companies such as YouTube are known for taking channels down for small violations of their terms and conditions, justifying Jones’ ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union defines censorship as “the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are ‘offensive,’ happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others.” We as a society simply cannot censor someone just because their message is wrong or it may offend people. However, their definition continues “expression may be restricted only if it will clearly cause direct and imminent harm to an important societal interest.” YouTube and other companies expressed that Alex Jones’ content violated that respective rule.

One notable example is Jones’ verbal attack toward the Sandy Hook parents and Stoneman Douglas survivors for conspiring as false flag actors. Two Sandy Hook families  sued Jones because they were harassed to the point that they had to move residences. This action, in my view, is enough to ban him from any platform on the internet.

YouTube has a specific policy on cyberbullying, which Jones broke countless times with his offensive rants. The company released a statement in the wake of Jones’ removal from its platform. “All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube,” the statement read. “When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment, or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.”

Additionally, the ban came as a result of Jones trying to circumvent YouTube’s ban on live-streaming from his account by doing so through other channels. Therefore, hate speech was not the only reason Jones got blocked from his platform.

Overall, freedom of speech does not include hate speech. Jones deserved to be blocked because of the amount of hate he and his contributors have spread against minorities and victims of school shootings. However, this incident shouldn’t mean we have to ban everything that offends us or makes us uncomfortable. We should explore subjects and say the things that have to be said, even if it may be disagreeable.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *