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Censorship in the Media

Content Platforms Ban InfoWars

Autor(en): Evan Cooley am Dienstag, 7. August 2018
Tags: , , , ,
Quelle: Infowars.com

Alex Jones ©Infowars.com

Alex Jones’ right-wing conspiracy theories are toeing the line between protected free speech and hate speech for content platforms.

This week, every major content platform with the exception of Twitter have either removed or banned Alex Jones’ “Infowars” podcast for violating community guidelines. Infowars is notorious for their anti-establishment, right-wing ideologies that have been stirring up emotions in the American public since its founding in 1999. Some conspiracy theories that Infowars have started over the years include, but aren't limited to, 9/11 being a inside job perpetrated by the federal government, millions of illegal votes in the last two Presidential elections, and the Sandy Hook massacre being a “false flag” attack. Alex Jones’ thrives off of his ideologies of the government (with the exception of Donald Trump, of course) being part of a greater establishment that control all forms of media, brainwashing American citizens with false information to force them into liberalism.

The Last Straw

Even though Jones has had these repugnant views for years now, the American public finally has had enough of his agenda to start a push to major content platforms to ban Alex Jones from their services. Four parents of children who were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting filed lawsuits against Jones and Infowars for slander and defamation. Jones had repeatedly said that the massacre was “manufactured and staged” to help the leftist government and liberal media push for gun control legislation. An even greater slap in the face to these families is Jones has recently avoided court hearings and tried to dismiss the lawsuits on the grounds of “journalism and free speech.” Jones’ ban on these services raises a greater question: Are hateful and slanderous viewpoints with no factual backing covered by the inalienable right of free speech of the press?

Differentiating Free Speech and Hate Speech

Soon after the censorship of Infowars and their content, Jones’ fans and enemies alike questioned whether or not removing their content was warranted. After all, America is the “home of freedom” where freedom of speech and the press are within your constitutional rights. But there is a decision to be made by content providers like YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify to determine where the line of free speech and hate speech is crossed. Jones never faced problems with his wild “9/11 was an inside job” theory, because it was just that; a theory. Whether it's based off of sound logic or not, Jones has the right to broadcast his opinions on the matter. But once Sandy Hook tragically happened, the country was in absolute shock about what the actions of one person could do to the collective psyche of a nation. Then for Jones and Infowars to suggest that the death of 20 children and 6 teachers was a “manufactured and staged false flag attack,” is insulting. Once speech slanders and defames the grieving, that is when it is no longer free speech, but hate speech.

What Exactly Denotes “Hate Speech”

There is a fine line between offensive points of view and actual hate speech. Opinions that you may have that demean or dehumanize others are just as legal as non-offensive ones. Hate speech is speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display that incites violence or prejudicial action against a protected group or individual on the basis of their membership of the group. That's why, as mentioned earlier, his views on the 9/11 conspiracy doesn’t qualify as hate speech as there isn’t a specific group that he is attacking. His Sandy Hook stance is different though. Once he labeled the parents of victims as “actors”, it crosses the line into unprotected speech. According to court documents, Infowars fans have been sending hate mail and even death threats to the homes of grieving parents since the shooting in 2012. His speech incites prejudicial action against a specific group of people, therefore making it unconstitutional. Then for Jones to have the audacity to attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, makes the decision for companies like YouTube and Spotify even easier. In our modern digital age, content platforms like these are facing an uphill battle in determining what speech is protected. And since every single case is different, there is no possibility of making a surefire policy that could cover every possible form of speech someone may have. The battle of digital censorship vs. hate speech is just getting started.

Platte des Monats

Auf den Ehrenplätzen der Rubrik „Wörter, die es nur im Deutschen gibt“ sitzt seit jeher die feucht-fröhliche „Schnapsidee“. Sie beschreibt treffend wie kein anderes Wort das, was entsteht, wenn drei befreundete Musiker*innen auf einer Geburtstagsparty einen über den Durst trinken und dann beschließen eine Band zu gründen. Aus einer solchen Schnapsidee wurde auch das Bandprojekt Phantastic Ferniture um Sängerin Julia Jacklin, das auf seinem gleichnamigen Debüt den Emotionsreichtum der Adoleszenz in leichtfüßig schwankender und wunderbar wärmender Gitarrenmusik feiert.

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