YouTube is allowing multiple accounts to circumvent its ban against Alex Jones' Infowars

A Media Matters review found that YouTube, which banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his far-right Infowars outlet from the platform last August, continues to host multiple channels that stream Infowars content -- despite the fact that YouTube’s current policy also bans channels that are focused on streaming Infowars.

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Update (6/21/19): Every copycat channel listed that had uploaded Infowars content has been removed, with most now showing a message saying they were “terminated for a violation of YouTube's Terms of Service.” The channels from Infowars personalities remain up.

YouTube said that it was removing Infowars for hate speech and harassment

YouTube bans Infowars and Alex Jones for “hate speech and harassment.” Last August, YouTube was one of multiple social media platforms that took action against Infowars and Alex Jones, with YouTube saying the outlet had tried to circumvent Jones’ previous temporary suspension for “hate speech against Muslims and transgender people.” From an August 6 Washington Post report:

Jones’s shows long have sparked complaints because of many elaborate and unsupported claims, including that mass shootings such as the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School may have been staged and that the government orchestrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In July, YouTube banned one of his videos from June entitled “How to Prevent Liberalism,” which depicts a man shoving a child to the ground.

Both Facebook and YouTube said that Jones had posted new objectionable content over the weekend -- for YouTube, the issue was that Jones continued to broadcast in violation of the company’s ban -- that influenced their decision to take the content down.

YouTube said in a statement, “When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts."

On Monday morning, Facebook followed by blocking four of Jones’s pages, and then YouTube deleted his Infowars page, with 2.4 million followers. Both companies had already temporarily suspended some publishing privileges of Infowars or Jones.

On July 24, YouTube issued a 90-day ban on live broadcasts by Jones because of videos that the company said included hate speech against Muslims and transgender people. Facebook followed suit and issued a 30-day ban. [The Washington Post, 8/6/18]

Multiple YouTube channels have since tried to get around the ban

YouTube has been forced to deal with multiple channels that circumvented the ban. Despite YouTube’s ban, Infowars appeared to continue running multiple channels streaming its content, which YouTube only removed after Media Matters’ reporting in March. Another channel streaming content from Infowars host Owen Shroyer was only removed after being identified by Judd Legum’s newsletter Popular Information on June 19, but as noted by Legum, “even after Popular Information contacted YouTube, multiple copies of Shroyer's Tuesday show, when he called for [former President Barack] Obama to be lynched, remained on the service.” [Media Matters, 3/19/19, 3/25/19; Popular Information, 6/19/19]

YouTube’s policy is to remove channels trying to circumvent its Infowars ban, even if they do not appear to be operated by Infowars. Following reporting on copycat channels that were then banned, Media Matters learned that YouTube’s policy is to terminate accounts that livestream or upload unaltered Infowars broadcasts in an attempt to get around the website’s ban -- even if those channels are not directly related to Jones’ outlet.

Multiple copycat Infowars channels remained on YouTube

Many YouTube channels were still streaming Infowars content. A Media Matters review of YouTube found multiple channels that had focused on streaming Infowars content:

YouTube also still hosts channels from Infowars personalities. YouTube has also continued to host channels from other Infowars personalities, who often post content specifically from Infowars:

Timothy Johnson provided research for this piece.