Among top social platforms, Twitter has surrendered its position as the sole supporter of Alex Jones and his extreme brand of conspiracy-laced entertainment.
"Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope,” the company tweeted on Thursday.
“We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.”
Twitter’s abusive behavior policy states that account holders may not engage in the targeted harassment of others, or incite such activity. It considers abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice.
Illustrating Twitter’s difficult position as a content moderator, the decision sparked strong and differing reactions among users on Thursday.
“Free speech is free … THIS IS WRONG,” one user tweeted.
“Boycott all Twitter advertisers!!” tweeted another.
Referring to Alex Jones’ repeated suggestion that the Sandy Hook massacre was the work of the U.S. government, another user remarked: “He crossed a line with the Sandyhook stuff … No sympathy.”
Last month, Apple, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Spotify, and LinkedIn all resolved to stop carrying Jones’ content, including his flagship media property, InfoWars.
At the time, Twitter vowed to continue supporting Infowars and Jones. By way of explanation, Del Harvey, vice president of trust and safety at Twitter, said: “Twitter is reflective of real conversations happening in the world and that sometimes includes perspectives that may be offensive, controversial, and/or bigoted.”
Soon after that, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey doubled down on his support of Jones.
“Some cultural contexts enable some speech that other cultural contexts don't,” Dorsey told Sean Hannity on his radio show.
During his conversation with the Fox News personality, Dorsey addressed accusations that Twitter has actively sought to silence conservative voices by various means, including “shadow banning” -- or the indirect suppression of accounts.
Having now officially banned Jones, Twitter is certain to face far more criticism of this type.Of note, Jones physically confronted Dorsey on Capitol Hill, this week, where the CEO appeared before members of Congress along with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.