Spotify ditches podcasts from controversial InfoWars creator Alex Jones just days after users threaten to boycott the app over its decision to host the conspiracy theorist
- InfoWars founder Jones hosts a controversial right-wing radio show and podcast
- Facebook and YouTube recently blocked his content from their platforms
- Spotify users attacked the streaming service for failing to follow suit
- The firm has now dropped ‘specific’ Infowars content from its streaming service
Spotify has ditched episodes of the controversial podcast ‘The Alex Jones Show’ for violating its hate content policy.
The move follows a severe backlash on social media that saw subscribers threaten to ditch their accounts after the streaming service continued to host Jones’ ‘Infowars’ podcast – despite block from rivals Facebook and YouTube.
Days after the widespread complainst from its paid subscribers, Spotify has confirmed its decision to remove ‘specific’ Infowars episodes from its service.
It’s unclear exactly how many episodes have been ditched, although the vast majority of content created by Alex Jones, an Austin, Texas-based radio host and conspiracy theorist, remains available to Spotify users.
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Spotify has removed episodes of the controversial podcast ‘The Alex Jones Show’ for violating its hate content policy. The move followed a backlash on social media after the streaming service continued to host Jones’ (file photo) podcast
‘We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community,’ the company said in a statement Wednesday.
‘Spotify can confirm it has removed specific episodes of “The Alex Jones Show” podcast for violating our hate content policy,’ it said.
Jones says his shows, which are broadcast on radio, YouTube and other platforms, reach at least 70 million people a week.
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Responding to the Spotify action on his podcast, Jones said it was ‘what I expect.’
‘I was born in censorship. I was born being suppressed,’ he said.
Among other claims, Jones has called the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting a hoax.
The move followed a backlash on social media that saw subscribers threaten to ditch their accounts after Spotify continued to host Jones’ ‘Infowars’ podcast
‘He has no place on your platform,’ Twitter user @FortRutledge shared on the social network in response to the controversy around the InfoWars host
He was sued for defamation by families of some of the children killed in that attack, which left 20 children and six adults dead.
He now admits the shooting occurred but says his claims were free speech. He has sought to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Jones’ profile has spread from the far-right fringe in recent years. While running for president in 2015, Donald Trump told Jones his reputation was ‘amazing.’
Subscribers voiced their outrage on Twitter with some saying they would cancel their account. Writer Greg Rucka tweeted ‘Really kinda appalled by Spotify carrying Alex Jones’
‘Seriously, I’m going to miss my Spotify subscription, but this is a bridge too far’, tweeted another user under the handle @CopThese
The move from Spotify follows similar blocks of Jones’ content put in place by rivals YouTube and Facebook.
The 44-year-old’s personal Facebook account was blocked for 30 days earlier this week, while four of his YouTube clips were taken down last month.
The right-wing conspiracy theorist was accused of spreading hate speech and encouraging physical harm on the platforms.
The YouTube videos, which included footage of a man pushing a child to the ground, were shared by the Austin-based user on his InfoWars website.
Among other claims, Jones has called the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting a hoax. He was sued for defamation by families of some of the children killed in that attack, which left 20 children and six adults dead
Infowars posted a statement claiming YouTube had slapped the Jones’ channel with a ‘community strike,’ meaning he cannot broadcast live on YouTube for 90 days.
Spotify users lambasted the service after it chose not to follow suit.
Writer Greg Rucka tweeted last week: ‘Really kinda appalled by Spotify carrying Alex Jones.
‘I know countless writers and artists who use the service. Not anymore.’
Another user, who tweets under the handle @CopThese, added: ‘seriously, I’m going to miss my Spotify subscription, but this is a bridge too far.’
The Sleeping Giants campaign, which aims to encourage companies to drop ads from media organisations that encourage bigotry, tweeted: ‘Really, @Spotify?
‘Alex Jones has been responsible for harassing parents of Sandy Hook children, Vegas shooting victims and threatening to kill the Special Counsel.
‘And you’re now hosting his podcasts??’
WHAT HAS YOUTUBE DONE TO IMPROVE ITS MODERATION?
YouTube announced in December 2017 it would hire 10,000 extra human moderators people to monitor videos amid concerns too much offensive content was making it onto the site.
Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive of the video sharing site, revealed that YouTube enforcement teams had reviewed two million videos for extremist content over the preceding six months – removing 150,000 from the site.
Around 98 per cent of videos that were removed were initially flagged by the ‘computer learning’ algorithms.
Almost half were deleted within two hours of being uploaded, and 70 per cent were taken down within eight hours.
Miss Wojcicki added: ‘Our goal is to stay one step ahead, making it harder for policy-violating content to surface or remain on YouTube.
‘We will use our cutting-edge machine learning more widely to allow us to quickly remove content that violates our guidelines.’
Earlier this year, YouTube’s parent company Google has announced that from February 20, channels will need 1,000 subscribers and to have racked up 4,000 hours of watch time over the last 12 months regardless of total views, to qualify.
Previously, channels with 10,000 total views qualified for the YouTube Partner Program which allows creators to collect some income from the adverts placed before their videos.
This threshold means a creator making a weekly ten-minute video would need 1,000 subscribers and an average of 462 views per video to start receiving ad revenue.
This is the biggest change to advertising rules on the site since its inception – and is another attempt to prevent the platform being ‘co-opted by bad actors’ after persistent complaints from advertisers over the past twelve months.
YouTube’s new threshold means a creator making a weekly ten-minute video would need 1,000 subscribers and an average of 462 views per video to start receiving ad revenue.
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