Twitter suspends Alex Jones following a video calling to ready ‘battle rifles’

The platform’s move is a change from its previous decision to let the controversial host remain, but stops short of a permanent ban. The suspension is only for a week.

Twitter is finally joining other online platforms in standing against “Infowars” host Alex Jones—albeit less drastically.

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended Jones’ account for one week after the host tweeted a link to his Periscope livestream that called for supporters to grab their “battle rifles” and move against members of the news media and other groups.

Jones has since deleted the tweet and livestream, but Media Matters posted a portion of the latter:

In the video, Jones says:

It now stands with you and the U.S. military… We’re under attack and you know that. You pointed out mainstream media is the enemy, but now is the time to act on them, before they do a false flag.

… It’s time politically and economically, and…judiciously, and legally and criminally to move against these people. It’s got to be done now.

… This is it. So, people need to have their battle rifles and everything ready at their bedsides, and you got to be ready.

The suspension is not permanent, nor did it remove Jones’ Twitter presence.

The New York Times reported:

The action effectively prevents Mr. Jones from tweeting or retweeting from his personal account for seven days, though he will be able to browse Twitter. The Twitter account for Infowars, the media website founded by Mr. Jones, was not affected.

Business Insider reported:

A Twitter spokesman said: “We can confirm that the account currently has limited functionality. We haven’t suspended the account but are requiring Tweets which contained a broadcast in violation of our rules are deleted.”

Following the suspension, “Infowars'” account tweeted:

Though Twitter’s action was the harshest it has taken against Jones so far, the move is far less severe than decisions from platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, Apple, Spotify and YouTube. More than a week ago, the companies banned Jones from posting content to their platforms.

On Aug. 12, Vimeo also removed Jones from its platform, also citing a violation of its terms of service.

CNet reported:

“We can confirm that Vimeo removed Infowars’ account on Sunday, August 12 following the uploading of videos on Thursday and Friday that violated our Terms of Service prohibitions on discriminatory and hateful content,” a Vimeo spokesperson said in an email statement. “Vimeo has notified the account owner and issued a refund.”

Twitter chief says platform believes in ‘free expression’

Though facing mounting pressure from social media users and reporters to follow other online platforms and tech companies in banning Jones, Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has remained firm on the platform’s decision to let the host remain.

On Aug. 8, CNet reported:

… Dorsey went on the Sean Hannity Show, a radio program by the popular conservative political pundit, to discuss his company’s decision and what it does about “overt racists.”

Dorsey told Hannity, who has 3.6 million followers, that Twitter believes “in the power of free expression,” but acknowledged the need “to balance that with the bad-faith actors who intentionally try to silence others.”

And, he admitted, “We’ll certainly miss things.”

Dorsey also tweeted the following thread, explaining Twitter’s position:

However, some journalists were quick to point out that Jones’ tweets had broken Twitter’s rules, despite what Dorsey claimed in his tweets.

On Aug. 9, CNN reported:

It’s worth noting that at least some of the content Alex Jones published on other platforms (e.g., Facebook and YouTube) that led to them taking enforcement against him would have also violated our policies had he posted it on Twitter,” [Twitter’s vice president for trust and safety, Del Harvey] wrote. “Had he done so, we would have taken action against him as well.”

But a CNN review of Jones’ accounts show that all of the videos that initially led the other tech companies to take action against Jones were in fact posted to Twitter by Jones or InfoWars. All were still live on Twitter as of the time this article was published. CNN noted this in a request for comment from Twitter on Wednesday morning, before Harvey’s email was made public. The company declined to comment at the time.

Twitter’s recent suspension marks a change in Twitter’s stance on Jones, but it falls short of answering critics and handling growing backlash.

The New York Times reported:

… [T]he lack of action prompted criticism of Twitter from its users — and even from some of its own employees. Late last week, Twitter began softening its tone, especially after CNN and others found more than half a dozen tweets from Mr. Jones that clearly violated the company’s policies. Twitter said it ordered Mr. Jones to take those tweets down.

Even so, Twitter’s action on Tuesday stops short of a full ban of Mr. Jones from Twitter and leaves many questions unanswered about what actually gets people booted off the service. The company’s policy calls for the short-term suspension of an account after repeated violations, but Twitter declined to clarify how many offenses would terminate Mr. Jones’s account permanently.

Business Insider reported:

Dorsey is under significant pressure to oust Jones permanently. A campaign, started by #grabyourwallet consumer activist Shannon Coulter, has gone viral, encouraging Twitter users to block every Fortune 500 company with a Twitter presence. The hope is that this will impact Twitter’s ad revenue.

How would you advise Dorsey and Twitter to move forward, PR Daily readers?

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