Update (3/8/21): Following the publication of this article, five of the apps mentioned in this piece no longer appear in the Google Play Store. They are: “UNOFFICIAL Podcast player for Infowars,” “UNOFFICIAL Online live streamer for Alex Jones,” “UNOFFICIAL Podcast player for The X22Report,” “And We Know,” and “Truth and Art TV.”
Update (4/7/21): Three more of the apps mentioned in this piece no longer appear in the Google Play Store. They are “The Alex Jones Radio,” “RedPill78,” and “SGT Report.”
Apps airing content from conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, and from shows and channels supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory, have remained on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, despite previous moves from both companies to bar or remove such content.
Infowars, led by Alex Jones, is a far-right outlet known for spreading false conspiracy theories and misinformation, such as the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and outlandish claims about the Sandy Hook mass shooting and the coronavirus. QAnon is a false conspiracy theory that has been tied to multiple violent incidents and that multiple government agencies have issued internal warnings over.
Both Jones and QAnon have ties to the January 6 insurrection. Jones helped fund the rally preceding the insurrection and is under investigation for possibly influencing the attack, and QAnon adherents helped spark and took part in the insurrection.
Previously, both Apple and Google took action against the Infowars app, with the former banning it in 2018 because of a prohibition on content that is “offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust or in exceptionally poor taste.” Google banned the app in 2020 for violating its policy on “distributing misleading or harmful information.” They have both also taken action on QAnon, with Apple removing QAnon apps in 2018 and Google banning QAnon apps in 2020, the latter again for violating its policy on “distributing misleading or harmful information.”
Despite those actions, a Media Matters review found multiple apps on both stores that appear to still air content from Infowars and promote the QAnon conspiracy theory.
On Google Play Store, an app called “UNOFFICIAL Podcast player for Infowars” describes itself as “the RSS reader and audio player for Alex Jones' Infowars website” and has been installed by users at least 5,000 times. Another app from the same developer on the Play Store, called “UNOFFICIAL Online live streamer for Alex Jones,” describes itself as “the online radio broadcast streamer for Infowars/Prisonplanet.tv by host Alex Jones” and has at least 10,000 installs. There is also an app on the store called “The Alex Jones Radio,” which has at least 1,000 installs.
The developer of the “UNOFFICIAL” Infowars apps also features on the Google Play Store an app called “UNOFFICIAL Podcast player for The X22Report.” X22 Report is a QAnon show previously banned from YouTube and Spotify and that seems to have spoken positively of the insurrection. The app has at least 10,000 installs.
The Play Store also hosts apps for five other QAnon shows -- TruReporting, RedPill78, And We Know, Truth and Art TV, and SGT Report -- that were all developed by Secure Server TV, a video hosting service that has also facilitated the shows’ distribution across multiple streaming platforms. They have at least 2,200 combined installs. Those shows have been previously banned from YouTube and/or Patreon; SGT Report has expressed seeming support for the insurrection, and RedPill78’s hosts attended the insurrection.