Why Facebook,YouTube and Apple are removing InfoWars content

In recent efforts to stop the spread of fake news, big tech is taking a hard look at Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory site InfoWars. Facebook, Youtube, Apple and Spotify have all removed Jones' content in the past week.

Posted: Aug 7, 2018 11:57 AM
Updated: Aug 7, 2018 11:57 AM

Big tech made a show on Sunday night and Monday of moving against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his media company InfoWars. But Apple and Google are both still selling its app, which contains some of the same type of content that both tech giants have pulled from elsewhere on their platforms.

It's unclear how long the app has been available in the two app stores, but InfoWars has been publicizing the app's availability since at least July 13.

Both stores categorize InfoWars as "news." On the Apple App Store, InfoWars' app had before the wave of bans gone as high as #23 among free news apps, ahead of offerings from legitimate news outlets like the Associated Press, CBS News, USA Today, NPR, Bloomberg, MSNBC, Washington Post, NBC News, Politico and the Financial Times.

On Tuesday, after the bans, it had spiked to #4 in the category.

InfoWars and Jones regularly traffic in conspiracy theories, including the claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax and that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks were an inside job.

The InfoWars podcasts that Apple removed from the iTunes store are recordings of the company's live shows -- which are still being streamed live and hosted through the app available through Apple's app store.

Related: YouTube, Apple and Facebook remove content from InfoWars and Alex Jones

Last week, Apple declined to comment for this story. But asked on Monday why the app remained live even after the podcasts had been pulled, an Apple spokesperson responded in a statement, "Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions."

A Google spokesperson told CNN, "While we don't comment on specific apps, we can confirm that our content policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. If an app violates our policies, we take action."

Both Apple and Google approve all apps sold in their stores. Any developer who has an app approved can then apply to have that app listed as "news;" the companies do not limit the category only to those created by legitimate news outlets.

Apple and Google did not respond to CNN's inquiries about whether it was appropriate to list the conspiracy theory website in the same category as legitimate news organizations.

Apple does explicitly say it may ban apps for objectionable content, such as "Defamatory, discriminatory, or mean-spirited content, including references or commentary about religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, national/ethnic origin, or other targeted groups..."

Google has similar language, saying it does not allow "apps that promote violence, or incite hatred against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or any other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization."

In addition to its conspiracy theories, InfoWars and Jones publish content that is Islamaphobic, xenophobic and/or transphobic to their sites, in addition to pushing it on their live streams. Either way, it would then end up in the apps.

InfoWars recently published to both apps an article that claimed to reveal the "transgenderism movement" was created to "ultimately collapse society." It also recently published to both apps a claim that former CIA director John Brennan converted to "radical Islam and was a registered communist." Another post encouraged people to watch something it described as "Islamic invasion ships slam into Spain." The footage was of a migrant boat landing on a Spanish beach.

InfoWars did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. In a message posted Monday on Twitter, after the other platforms had taken down some of his and his company's content, Jones told his fans to watch live streams on the InfoWars website, calling it "the one platform that they CAN'T ban."

Apple and Google have both banned apps before.

Gab, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to Twitter from their app stores, was blocked by Apple in January 2017 over what Apple termed hate speech. Google pulled the app from their store in August 2017 over hate speech as well.

At the time, Gab founder Andrew Torba told Mashable that it was another example of the "ideological echo chamber in Silicon Valley."

"You see all these companies one after another coming out with the same exact message, same exact stance," he said. "There's nobody saying 'no, we stand for free speech. We hate some of the vile things that are said.' Either you support free speech or you do not. Period."

Just last month, Apple removed the conspiracy theory app "QDrops" from its stores after NBC News reported that the app pushed the "QAnon" conspiracy theory.

The QDrops app had until the removal been one of the top paid apps in the "entertainment" category in the Apple store; it's still on sale in the Google app store.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 46°
Columbus
Broken Clouds
50° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 50°
Oxford
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 40°
Starkville
Overcast
50° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 50°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather