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  • How Alex Jones is circumventing his Facebook ban

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Alex Jones is continuing to conduct live broadcasts on Facebook and use the platform to make money, circumventing Facebook’s ban of four pages associated with Jones several weeks ago.

    On August 6, Facebook announced it had "unpublished" four pages connected to Jones -- “the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page” -- for repeatedly violating the website’s hate speech and bullying policies.

    This action by Facebook did not affect a page associated with War Room, a show produced by Jones’ Infowars outlet. The three-hour weekday broadcast, hosted by Infowars’ Owen Shroyer and President Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone, airs on Infowars.com, terrestrial radio, and several online broadcasting platforms including Facebook and Periscope.

    Jones appeared on War Room for about 25 minutes during its August 21 broadcast following a wild afternoon of breaking news that included reports that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen were both convicted of multiple felonies. The episode aired live on Facebook and Periscope, a broadcasting platform owned by Twitter, whose seven-day suspension of Jones for inciting violence in a broadcast ended last night.

    During his appearance, Jones commented on the breaking news in part by ranting about the supposed existence of a gigantic left-wing pedophile conspiracy and doing an extended impersonation of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

    While Shroyer and Stone were co-hosting, Jones appeared unannounced and started talking into a microphone on the side of the set. Jones said that there are “leftists infiltrating every university, every institution with their pedophile rings,” arguing that attention should be paid to that rather than to Cohen admitting to violating campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction by paying hush money to women. Jones said that “Trump never said he wasn’t a ladies man” and that in the media’s eyes, Trump’s crime is that “he’s heterosexual.” Jones went on to say, “There’s not a thousand raped kids by Trump. There’s not one. There’s not one.”

    Throughout his appearance, Jones veered through a number of topics (and donned a Bernie Sanders mask for several minutes at one point). His comments included dehumanizing statements about people who are homeless, claiming that they are giving people “gifts” of “droppings of syphilis and -- what’s the one that eats your liver -- hepatitis” by defecating in public.

    The broadcast also demonstrated that Jones continues to use Facebook to make money through his business selling “overpriced and ineffective” nutritional supplements. Shroyer announced the launch of a new Infowars product called “Ultimate Female Force” during the show and played a commercial featuring Jones as an over-the-top pitchman for the product:

    Returning from a commercial break, Jones said, “This hour is brought to you by Female Force.”

    Media Matters reached out to Facebook for comment on whether Jones is still allowed to broadcast on the platform and will update this post if we receive a response.

  • Despite bans, Alex Jones appears on Facebook and Periscope broadcasts to rant about “false flag” attacks

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Even though Facebook has permanently banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Periscope has temporarily banned him, he appeared on both platforms Thursday to claim America will soon be shaken by a “false flag” attack.

    Jones made the assertion during a brief appearance on the August 16 edition of War Room, a show produced by his Infowars outlet that remains unaffected by the social media bans and is still allowed to broadcast on Facebook and Periscope.

    On August 6, Facebook announced it had "unpublished" four pages connected to Jones -- “the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page” -- for repeated violations of the website’s rules. On August 14, Twitter banned Jones from tweeting for seven days from his @RealAlexJones account after the account linked to a Periscope video in which he told supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready against his perceived enemies. The following day, Twitter expanded the weeklong limitation to Jones’ @Infowars Twitter account and a Periscope account that both Twitter accounts use for livestreams. (Periscope is owned by Twitter.)

    But Jones circumvented these restrictions by appearing on War Room, a program that has flown under the radar of sanctions imposed on Jones by Facebook, Twitter, and Periscope.

    War Room, a three-hour weekday broadcast that airs on Infowars.com, terrestrial radio, and several online broadcasting platforms after The Alex Jones Show, is hosted by Infowars’ Owen Shroyer and President Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone. The show has also provided a platform for white nationalist guests including Nick Fuentes and Faith Goldy. During the show’s August 16 edition -- while Shroyer and Stone were bantering about the possibility that Stone could be criminally charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation -- the sound of a door being slammed caught the co-hosts’ attention. Jones then walked onto the set and talked about a Federal Communications Commission enforcement action against a pirate radio station that has broadcast his show. He then switched topics to say, “The false flag’s coming, gentlemen,” as he exited the studio.

    In recent days, Jones has repeatedly claimed the existence of a plot by mainstream media outlets and high-profile journalists to stage gruesome “terror attacks” against themselves that then can be blamed on Jones and Infowars for political gain and to garner sympathy.

    Despite actions Facebook has taken against Jones, War Room’s page remains active and was broadcasting a livestream when Jones made his appearance. While the show no longer livestreams on YouTube, its channel and numerous previous episodes are still available there, even though the site has banned Jones’ primary account. And the Periscope account the show streams from is separate from the one that has been limited by the seven-day timeout targeting Jones’ account.

  • Twitter’s half measures against Alex Jones don’t make much sense unless he’s getting special treatment

    While Jack Dorsey was saying Alex Jones might learn from his Twitter limitation, Jones was using Twitter to push conspiracy theories about Robert Mueller

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Hours after being banned from tweeting for a week, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was conducting a live broadcast from an alternate Twitter account where he doubled down on a previous claim that special counsel Robert Mueller oversees people raping children.

    During the evening of August 14, Twitter took action against Jones’ primary account, @RealAlexJones, after the account sent a tweet that linked to a video on Periscope in which Jones called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready:

    While many major news outlets are reporting that Twitter’s action is a “suspension,” BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac notes that it is better described as an account “limitation” because a suspension would mean taking the account offline. Under the terms of the action, @RealAlexJones was forced to delete the tweet linking to the Periscope video in order to start the countdown on a seven-day period in which the account is prohibited from tweeting.

    Earlier on August 14, Media Matters had drawn attention to the Periscope video, in which Jones told supporters that they may need to use guns against the mainstream media, antifa, “Chicom operatives,” and other enemies. In the video, Jones told his listeners to take action before the media carried out a “false flag” attack:

    The impact of Twitter’s action on Jones’ long-term ability to use the website as a platform for his often violent and hate-filled conspiratorial rhetoric appears to be minimal.

    While the offending Periscope video was deleted at the time Twitter took action, Jones continued to stream from the platform (which is owned by Twitter) throughout the evening of August 14. According to Mac, shortly after Jones was suspended from Twitter, his Periscope broadcast was featured on the website’s homepage under the hashtag #News.

    As of August 15, visitors to Jones’ Periscope account are greeted with the message “Sorry, this page doesn’t exist!” Reached for comment, a Twitter spokesperson told Media Matters that Jones’ Periscope account “has limited functionality” and that the limitations placed on Jones’ Twitter account had been extended to the streaming platform, meaning that he will be able to stream again in a week. The spokesperson also said that the action taken does not represent a suspension.

    But before Jones’ Periscope page was locked down, he used the platform to conduct a live broadcast on his @Infowars Twitter account, which was not affected by the action Twitter took against his @RealAlexJones account.

    During the 9:45 a.m. August 15 broadcast, Jones referenced an infamous July 23 incident in which he pantomimed shooting Mueller and claimed that the former FBI director “controls” people raping children. In his August 15 Twitter livestream, Jones doubled down, saying, “I said he knows it's going on, he watches them rape the children, and he uses it then for blackmail” and, “He watches -- they’ve got hidden cameras in those things, it’s what they frickin’ do,” while tenuously attempting to connect Mueller to reports of widespread abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania:

    That video is now temporarily inaccessible on Periscope. According to BuzzFeed, the @Infowars Twitter account has also been placed on a seven-day restriction.

    Jones’ wrist slap from Twitter makes it hard to draw any conclusion other than that he is receiving special treatment. Earlier this month, after Jones was banned from YouTube, Facebook, and other major online platforms, Twitter’s vice president released a statement claiming that Jones had not violated Twitter rules as he had on the platforms that banned him. CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy, however, found more than a dozen examples of content on the platform that appeared to violate the rules. Following Darcy’s reporting, Jones deleted the tweets and Twitter said the content did in fact violate the rules -- but that because the tweets were deleted, no action would be taken.

    This evening, NBC Nightly News will air an interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in response to the controversy. According to an excerpt published by NBC, Dorsey told Lester Holt, “Any suspension, whether it be a permanent one or a temporary one, makes someone think about their actions and behaviors.”

    Given Jones’ history, that view represents extreme naiveté or willful ignorance at best.

  • After Facebook, YouTube, and others ban him, Alex Jones directs supporters to Tumblr

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After being banned by Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms and websites for violating community guidelines, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is now using Tumblr to promote his Infowars outlet.

    Infowars drew attention to the Tumblr account on Twitter -- one of the only other major platforms Jones has not been banned from -- with a tweet that said, “They can take our Facebook, Apple, Spotify, Tunein, Youtube, Stitcher, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, Vimeo, Sprout, MailChimp & Disqus but they'll never take our...........Tumblr!”:

    The tweet linked to Jones’ Tumblr page. The page made its first post in 2012, but it has posted only sporadically over the past six years. On August 13, the account began repeatedly posting content after being dormant for over a year.

    Jones is using his Tumblr account to encourage readers to watch his show on Periscope and to download the Infowars app:

    Other posts link to material on Jones’ Infowars.com website.

    Media Matters has asked Tumblr for a comment on Jones’ use of its platform and will update this post if we receive a response.

  • Sinclair’s plan to buy Tribune Media stations is officially dead, but this pro-Trump TV giant isn’t going anywhere 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After several weeks of uncertainty, Tribune Media has officially pulled the plug on its planned acquisition by conservative local TV broadcasting behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group. Though Sinclair’s massive expansion plan is foiled, the company remains the largest owner and operator of local TV stations in the country and an increasingly popular friendly media platform for conservatives. And there are other local media battles on the horizon.

    On August 9, Tribune Media announced it has pulled out of the embattled Sinclair-Tribune acquisition proposal and has filed a lawsuit against Sinclair for “breach of contract,” citing the company’s questionable conduct that led to the deal’s slow-tracking. The announcement comes several weeks after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated the proposed acquisition for further legal scrutiny, citing possible “misrepresentation or lack of candor” by Sinclair. In the time since, Sinclair’s extensive record of shady business tactics has returned to the spotlight. And as of late July, both Sinclair and Tribune, along with several other major broadcasters, are being investigated by the Department of Justice for possible advertisement price fixing.

    The end of this proposed expansion is a huge victory for those who want local news to stay truly local, and especially those communities who were set to see Sinclair take over their airwaves. But Sinclair is still a major threat to the future of local news.

    Sinclair is already a huge conservative force in local media

    Sinclair currently owns or operates 192 TV stations in 89 different local media markets across the country. Even without the new stations it would have acquired through the Tribune purchase, Sinclair is still the largest owner and operator of local TV stations in the country. It’s already actively inflicting plenty of damage to local communities using two tactics: consolidation and content.

    Sinclair’s M.O. for years has been to infiltrate media markets and consolidate news resources, making local news measurably less local and more conservative. The company currently dominates numerous specific local media markets across the nation, using several types of legal maneuvers to own, operate, or otherwise control multiple top broadcast stations in a given place. There are at least 48 stations in 23 states that aren’t owned by Sinclair but are operated by the company in some capacity.

    Through outright ownership and roundabout legal agreements, Sinclair manages to currently broadcast “must-run” segments on around 100 local news stations nationwide. These stations are forced to air, often during morning or nightly newscasts, pro-Trump commentary segments hosted by former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn and regular “Terrorism Alert Desk” segments seemingly designed to spur anti-Muslim xenophobia.

    Sinclair has direct connections to the Trump inner circle

    Sinclair’s most well-known connection to the Trump administration is its “Bottom Line With Boris” series, particularly segments in which Epshteyn does friendly interviews with members of the Trump administration. At least seven administration officials -- and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani -- have used Sinclair as a friendly media platform. In the last few weeks, Sinclair has mandated that its news stations air four different excerpts from Epshteyn’s recent interview with Vice President Mike Pence.

    Epshteyn’s blatant Trump propaganda is only a small piece of the much larger web of connections between Sinclair and elected officials and members of the Trump camp. Trump has given exclusive interviews to Sinclair reporters at least 16 times, and Trump and others in his orbit have promoted Sinclair and its content.

    And though the Sinclair-Tribune deal has been shuttered, an internal investigation into Trump-appointed FCC chair Ajit Pai’s relationship with Sinclair may still be ongoing. In February, The New York Times reported that the FCC inspector general has opened an internal investigation into potential improper conduct by Pai and his aides in pushing deregulatory measures that have specifically benefited Sinclair. The investigation began after lawmakers called on the inspector general to investigate a “disturbing pattern of a three way quid-pro-quo” that could include a laundry list of activities, beginning shortly after Sinclair’s top executive told then-candidate Trump the outlet was there to “deliver [his] message” to America before the 2016 election.

    Sinclair is gearing up for other ways to expand its presence in the conservative news game

    Sinclair began meeting with current and former Fox News personalities while waiting for the Tribune deal to be approved, reportedly planning to develop a direct cable news competitor for Fox. It was developing ideas for a “three-hour block of news-opinion programming” that could air on a cable network Sinclair already owns or another it would have acquired in the Tribune deal.

    Even without the deal, Sinclair still has options for pursuing its cable news idea. In July, Buzzfeed News reported that Sinclair was developing a free streaming app called STIRR that it could use to launch its Fox News competitor. And Sinclair bought Circa, an online news company, in 2015. Sinclair stations already typically link to Circa on their websites and sometimes run packaged segments from Circa on their local newscasts. And after a 2017 stint as the prime resource for stoking Fox host Sean Hannity’s pro-Trump conspiracy theories, the outlet is now focused on bringing Sinclair’s nationally produced news segments to a wider audience.

    The Trump FCC could be making things even easier for Sinclair in the future

    Though it did sideline the Sinclair-Tribune deal, the Trump FCC is still very much in favor of media deregulation, and it’s poised to consider another move that could help Sinclair and other large broadcasters homogenize local news. In conversations with Media Matters, representatives from media and consumer advocacy groups said a possible FCC reconsideration of what’s known as the national ownership cap, or national television audience reach cap, could be the next big local media fight on the horizon.

    Currently, the law specifies that no broadcaster could own local stations reaching more than a collective 39 percent of U.S. television households. Changing this rule would give major companies like Sinclair the freedom to pursue other mergers and acquisitions currently restricted by the cap -- and it’s only a matter of time before the FCC makes a move.

    The commission gave public notice back in December that it plans to reconsider the cap, and a long list of broadcasters has already signaled public support for raising the limit. Sinclair, for its part, urged the FCC to eliminate the cap altogether.

  • “The Empire strikes back”: Right-wing media defend Alex Jones after Infowars is banned from several major platforms

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & ZACHARY PLEAT

    After Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes all removed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Infowars pages from their platforms, several right-wing media figures leapt to the extremist’s defense. Jones’ defenders responded by criticizing and threatening “the entire rotten tech machine” and invoking a wide range of comparisons to support him, including Star Wars, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, reality TV star Kylie Jenner, and the Holocaust.