Spotify appears to be following Facebook and Youtube’s lead when it comes to cracking down on "hate speech," specifically that spewed by infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. On Wednesday, the music streaming service announced it had removed a handful of episodes of “The Alex Jones Show” after growing public backlash on Twitter; many users threatened to cancel their subscriptions if Jones’ show wasn’t taken down and repeatedly flagged the podcast as “hate content.”
“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. “Spotify can confirm it has removed specific episodes of ‘The Alex Jones Show’ podcast for violating our hate content policy."
Spotify did not specify which episodes were removed, and dozens of others remain available to users. Whether this will appease the twitter mob or not has yet to be seen.
Jones reportedly wasn’t surprised by the move, saying it was “what I expect.”
“I was born in censorship. I was born being suppressed,” he added.
As mentioned earlier, Spotify is the third platform to take action against Jones in recent weeks.
Last Wednesday, Youtube handed out a strike to The Alex Jones Channel for violating its community guidelines and removed four of its videos from the site. Jones is also barred from live-streaming on the platform for the next 90 days.
“We have longstanding policies against child endangerment and hate speech,” YouTube said in a statement. “We apply our policies consistently according to the content in the videos, regardless of the speaker or the channel. We also have a clear three-strikes policy and we terminate channels when they receive three strikes in three months.”
The videos that were removed reportedly contained hate speech against Muslims and transgender individuals. The fourth video, “How To Prevent Liberalism,” showed a kid being shoved to the ground by grown man.
The last time Jones’ channel received a strike was back in February after he posted a video claiming the survivors of the Parkland shooting were crisis actors.
On Friday, Facebook took similar action against Jones.
Shortly after CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared Facebook's commitment to being a platform for all ideas and refused to remove conspiracy theorists, like Holocaust deniers, from the site, the company announced it had suspended Jones’ account after all.
Facebook claims the Info Wars host violated its community guidelines against bullying and hate speech.
“Our Community Standards make it clear that we prohibit content that encourages physical harm [bullying], or attacks someone based on their religious affiliation or gender identity [hate speech],” a spokesperson said.
It’s importnat to note that, like YouTube, Facebook’s punishment for Jones is only temporary (30 days), and that while Jones’ page is inactive, the Info Wars page (Jones' outlet) remains up and running.
That means the companies should expect to hear calls for more permanent action to be taken against Jones and his properties over the next couple of weeks.
While there’s certainly an argument to be made for allowing Jones’ opinions to be heard on places like Facebook or Spotify (no matter how hateful or deranged they may be), it’s important to note that our First Amendment right to free speech doesn’t mean we have a right to speak on every platform.