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Deplatformers Wail and Gnash Their Teeth as Alex Jones Returns to X

The end game for online censors is to crush a target’s very ability to exist.

by | Dec 18, 2023 | Articles, Good Reads, Media, Opinion

After years of Twitter banishment, Alex Jones has made his return to the platform, now called X. But the 10,000-pound gorilla in the room that the big-box media will not acknowledge is that the anti-establishment radio host’s exile was fundamentally about deplatforming a voice deemed undesirable in a calculated attempt to destroy his entire commercial viability.

As is his wont, Elon Musk on December 9 polled X users on restoring Jones to the social media goliath. A whopping 70.1% of 1,966,125 respondents voted yes, with only 29.9% saying no. “The people have spoken and so it shall be,” Musk wrote in a post in the wee hours of December 10.

Alex Jones (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

Dominant media outlets immediately hurried to paint Jones solely as a crazed conspiracy theorist, leaving out his intelligent and thought-provoking challenges to an entrenched status quo that tens of millions of Americans find to be vastly corrupt. It’s important to note what got Jones permanently removed from Jack Dorsey’s Twitter on September 6, 2018. It was not a rant against the Sandy Hook shooting. Rather, it was a video clip he posted of a heated exchange he engaged in with a CNN reporter.

Alex Jones was expunged from one of the largest social media companies in the world for challenging a progressive establishment network reporter over what he saw as his skewed reporting regarding online censorship.

There’s nothing ironic about that at all. The ugly reality behind the Jones takedown is that it was always about dramatically reducing his ability to reach an audience. Conservatives carp about the censors’ “hypocrisy” while ruling progressives understand that, despite whatever negative blowback it may entail, deplatforming simply works.

‘Cutting Off His Primary Distribution Channels’

Two days before Twitter dropped the ax five years ago, The New York Times ran a splashy article titled “Alex Jones Said Bans Would Strengthen Him. He Was Wrong.” The piece essentially amounted to a celebratory strut for the major online sites that had already whacked Jones and his Infowars news site.

“[A] review of traffic on Infowars several weeks after the bans shows that the tech companies drastically reduced Mr. Jones’s reach by cutting off his primary distribution channels: YouTube and Facebook,” the paper wrote. “In the three weeks before the August 6 bans, Infowars had a daily average of nearly 1.4 million visits to its website and views of videos posted by its main YouTube and Facebook pages, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the web data firms Tubular Labs and SimilarWeb. In the three weeks afterward, its audience fell by roughly half, to about 715,000 site visits and video views, according to the analysis.”

GettyImages-1228170283 infowars

(Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

That is a large chunk of lost viewers.

“That Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, muffled one of the internet’s loudest voices so quickly illustrates the tremendous influence a few internet companies have over public discourse and the spread of information,” The Times accurately noted. But was this observation made in an approving or disapproving manner?

“Now that access to Infowars is mainly through its website or app, Mr. Jones’s ability to reach new viewers is severely limited because they will no longer come across his videos while scrolling through Facebook or YouTube, said Monica Stephens, a geography professor at the University at Buffalo who has studied the spread of misinformation online,” the paper continued. “This increases the likelihood Infowars is preaching to a filter bubble versus reaching new audiences,” Stephens stated.

Making Alex Jones ‘Wane’

An August 10, 2018, article at leftist website Vice echoed The Times’ take. “Deplatforming Works,” read the two-word headline.

“There are lots of examples of people who have been deplatformed and have seen their power wane,” Vice related. “After he lost his Fox News show, Glenn Beck couldn’t sustain his influence – The Blaze reaches only a fraction of the people he used to. Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart personality, was permanently banned from Twitter for inciting targeted harassment campaigns against actress Leslie Jones, and he resigned from Breitbart over comments he made about pedophilia on a podcast. His general prominence in public discourse has waned ever since.”

The article went on to quote a notoriously partisan organization that is very much in the news today as an authoritative source on the subject:

“‘I think the anecdotes are what makes a difference here – each individual, when you add them up, you get a net effect. You don’t need much data behind it to point out that with Milo, he lost Twitter, and the result was he lost a lot,’ Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, which monitors conservative media and is studying deplatforming, [said in an interview]. ‘He lost his ability to be influential or at least to project a veneer of influence.’”

That last sentence is what this is all about. It is not the articulation of concern for quality public discourse. It is the language of brute weaponization to achieve a political goal.

‘He Doesn’t Have Any Influence Anymore’

Media Matters is currently being sued by Elon Musk for its allegedly highly manipulative attempts to scuttle revenue on X by rigging its advertising algorithm to portray the site as a haven for “hate” content.

Carusone could be seen again in a January 2021 NBC News article on President Donald Trump’s banishment from Twitter. Media Matters was benignly described by NBC as “a liberal watchdog group that monitors conservative media.”

Once again, severely diminishing the target’s voice was the entire point of the exercise.

“It’s likely that [Trump] will have a much smaller reach [elsewhere] than he did on Twitter,” Manoel Horta Ribeiro, “a doctoral student who has researched online extremism at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, a Swiss university,” told the network.

Carusone brought up yet another example, one he transparently hoped could be repeated.

“Bill O’Reilly, he was the most-watched person on cable news for decades,” he told NBC. “You don’t hear about him. He doesn’t have any influence anymore.”

Given this environment, it is utterly unsurprising to see establishment entities angered by the reappearance of Jones on X instinctively going after that sensitive advertising underbelly.

“With Alex Jones back, every advertiser still on this platform needs to leave,” Never Trump Republican ex-congressman and current CNN political analyst Adam Kinzinger exclaimed in a December 10 X post.

“[Jones’s return] poses new uncertainty for advertisers, who have fled X over concerns about hate speech appearing alongside their ads,” the Associated Press scurrilously wrote in the second paragraph of its account of Musk’s decision, lending credibility to Media Matters’ reported grotesque manipulation of X’s algorithm.

The message from a sullen and surly progressive ruling establishment to Musk could not be clearer: If you choose to defy us on our control of dominant internet information streams, we will hamstring your very ability to operate a sustainable business.

There is more than one way to suppress and destroy unwanted voices.

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