Steven Crowder has given conspiracy theorist Alex Jones a means to subvert YouTube's nearly five year ban on promoting his website — despite knowing that it is a violation of the site's policies.
Crowder is a conservative political commentator and the host of Louder with Crowder, a program he regularly uses to make racist remarks and launch attacks against the LGBTQ community. Crowder’s show streams on YouTube, where he has repeatedly broken the site's rules against hate speech with blatant racism and homophobia.
While Crowder’s channel has been suspended previously, it has never suffered permanent consequences for violating YouTube’s rules. In March 2021, he was temporarily suspended for violations of the platform’s 2020 election misinformation policies, but flouted consequences by streaming on an alternate channel. Two months later, Crowder received a second strike after he and his co-host ridiculed police shooting victim Ma’Khia Bryant. Crowder was again suspended in October 2021 for hate speech during an episode featuring Jones.
YouTube originally banned the channels of Jones and his Infowars network in 2018 after the conspiracy theorist attempted to circumvent previous suspensions — for videos in which he equated drag queens with Satanism and claimed Muslims “conquered” Europe — by streaming on an alternate channel. Before his ban, Jones used the site to push conspiracy theories encouraging harassment toward individuals including the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook massacre.
While Jones’ content remains banned on YouTube, Crowder has repeatedly and directly encouraged his audience to access Jones’ work, despite knowing it's a direct violation of YouTube's policies.
YouTube’s terms of service prohibits ban evasion
YouTube’s external links policy tells users not to “post links in your content on YouTube if they direct users to content that violates our Community Guidelines.” The policy forbids sharing these links in any fashion, such as displaying or “verbally directing viewers to a website to find a profile or page on another platform so they can watch content that violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
Jones remains banned on YouTube since attempting to subvert a suspension by streaming on another channel, but has continually sidestepped these restrictions on his content by creating copycat Infowars channels to broadcast his conspiracy theories. Jones’ guest appearances with figures like Crowder, Logan Paul, and Joe Rogan on their YouTube channels additionally offer him an opportunity to continue spreading misinformation and hate to new audiences.
In order to bypass blocks on sharing links to his far-right platforms, Jones’ regularly creates spoof URLs that redirect to his content, which stands in clear violation of multiple YouTube guidelines. Crowder has repeatedly directed his viewers to these links with full knowledge that doing so is against YouTube’s policies.
Crowder repeatedly violated YouTube’s ban-evasion policy to promote Jones
Crowder has hosted Jones on multiple occasions and advertised either the Infowars website or its current spoof URL. Crowder has put little effort into obfuscating his defiance of YouTube’s guidelines, telling viewers both where and when to consume Jones’ content — sometimes under the guise of “reverse psychology” — often while admitting he is aware this violates YouTube policy.
- Crowder repeatedly displayed the Infowars name and URL under Jones in their December 6, 2022, interview. Crowder had Jones on to explain the fallout from Infowars’ bizarre, antisemitic interview with rapper Ye. [YouTube, Louder with Crowder, 12/6/2022]
- Crowder prefaced his March 21 show featuring an interview with Jones by suggesting the audience “migrate over to Rumble,” an alternative streaming site that caters to right-wing programming. He then directed viewers to watch Jones’ show via the ban-evasion link because “we can't share the link for Infowars” on YouTube. Despite this acknowledgement, the regular Infowars URL was still placed directly under Jones' name as he was introduced. [YouTube, Louder with Crowder, 3/21/23]
- Again on March 21, Crowder promoted the spoof URL while acknowledging that he knew it was a violation of the terms of service. Crowder told viewers, “Do not visit [URL] Do you see what we’re saying there? It’s reverse psychology.” Jones later explained that it was “just the latest URL, because they block our URLs all the time.” [YouTube, Louder with Crowder, 3/21/23, 3/21/23]
- Crowder introduced Jones back to his show on March 22 with a custom graphic listing both the URL and the time The Alex Jones Show would be airing. He told viewers “do not tune in to, while we’re still on YouTube, [URL] at noon Eastern, 11 Central. He will not be hosting a show there and that link is not available for you to peruse at will.” [YouTube, Louder with Crowder, 3/22/23]
- On April 10, Crowder introduced Jones by reading his URL and announcing The Alex Jones Show would be aired from Crowder’s studio. [YouTube, Louder with Crowder, 4/10/23]
- Also on the April 10 show, Crowder admitted he was just suspended from YouTube and predicted it was “going to happen again.” Crowder gave the floor to Jones to advertise his show and promote an alternate URL “that gets around the censors.” [YouTube, Louder with Crowder, 4/10/23]