And Then They Came for Ricochet

 

Infowars represent Conservative media in the same way McDonald’s represents vegan health food. Alex Jones’ brand of “journalism” is anything but. Infowars purport tinfoil-hat conspiracies that are not only discredited and insulting to our intelligence but hurtful to those impacted by their clickbait headlines, such as calling the murders of Sandy Hook Elementary school children in Newtown, CT “fake”. It beggars the mind how this man and his organization can publish such drivel.

Today Infowars has been officially purged by Apple, Facebook, and Spotify. IW is still able to stream directly from its own servers, but these three major distribution channels succumbed to public pressure to have them removed. The reason: unspecified “hate speech.” Most everyone won’t miss something they never wanted to listen to, but this is where my disdain for Infowars yields to my greater concern over who is the arbiter of what is defined as hate speech and what is and isn’t allowed.

As reported on CNBC an Apple spokesman stated, “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users.”

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Again, I don’t watch or listen to Infowars and recommend anyone else to not waste their time. But if we are going to play this game, first we must ask Apple, Facebook, and Spotify why they allow podcasts and videos from Antifa, which is a terrorist group. Why does Black Lives Matter have a forum when their members have advocated the killing of police officers and has lead to such? How is Louis Farrakhan, a reviled anti-semite, not banned? And how does the New York Times have a presence on social media when it hires a racist like Sarah Jeong?

Apple, Facebook, and Spotify: Do you stand against “hate speech” or against speech from outlets you hate?

If Infowars can be banned, what about other conservative media? Many on the extreme Left — who use bullhorns and whistles to turn away Trump officials, Candace Owens, and Charlie Kirk from restaurants — consider Turning Point USA, The Daily Wire, and perhaps Ricochet to be “hate speech.”

Are you ready for these people to control your media?

When we allow a select few denizens from Silicon Valley to determine what speech is and isn’t “allowed,” don’t be surprised when they come for you.

Update: Monday morning, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest also banned Jones’ properties.

There are 502 comments.

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  1. Ekosj Inactive

    They don’t even have to ‘come for you’. They are playing for the ‘chilling effect’ … the self censorship of those who don’t want protestors with bullhorns outside their home or place of employment. They Brownshirts would recognise and approve. The aim is to sweep competing speech and ideas from the commons. No speech but theirs. No ideas but theirs.

    • #1
    • August 6, 2018, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • 24 likes
  2. Gary Robbins Reagan

    When Ricochet starts suggesting that Sandy Hook was a hoax, I guess that Ricochet would be banned. Of course, I would be long gone by then.

    • #2
    • August 6, 2018, at 10:42 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman Post author

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    When Ricochet starts suggesting that Sandy Hook was a hoax, I guess that Ricochet would be banned. Of course, I would be long gone by then.

    Do you believe they will stop at Alex Jones?

    • #3
    • August 6, 2018, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 26 likes
  4. Dave of Barsham Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    When Ricochet starts suggesting that Sandy Hook was a hoax, I guess that Ricochet would be banned. Of course, I would be long gone by then.

    I think the point is that the harder left may push tech companies to start with Alex Jones but they have no obvious reason to stop there. The hard left would consider any number of reasonably conservative posts on Ricochet to be “hate speech.” Either we’re for free speech or we’re not. Alex Jones can be as crazy as he wants to be as long as he’s not inciting violence on someone. These companies don’t shut down antifa pages, or other groups that advocate that kind of stuff on the left. What that tells us is that they aren’t really offended by hate speech, they’re politically targeting those they disagree with.

    • #4
    • August 6, 2018, at 10:51 AM PDT
    • 32 likes
  5. RightAngles Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    When Ricochet starts suggesting that Sandy Hook was a hoax, I guess that Ricochet would be banned. Of course, I would be long gone by then.

    Not sure what you mean here. What I am sure of is that freedom of speech is without value unless it protects speech nobody likes. Any totalitarian despot would allow speech he approves of.

    In the 1980s in Chicago, the KKK applied for and got a permit to march in the Jewish suburb of Skokie. It was very controversial. The ACLU stood behind them, the march took place and was on the news etc, and then everyone went about their lives. I’m old enough to remember when this was the universally held view of freedom of speech and assembly.

    The banning of Alex Jones, nutball that he may be, should cause dread in the hearts of us all. If all they have to do is declare something to be “hate speech” and nobody pushes back, where will it end. Don’t think they won’t come for you, and don’t think there could never be gulags and “re-education camps” in America. I’m already seeing things I never thought could happen here.

    • #5
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:03 AM PDT
    • 41 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor

    It’s becoming more and more alarming. To see some of the actions that support the Left (such as Jeong) and those who are condemned on the Right, we all have reason to be concerned. And there’s no end in sight.

    • #6
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 18 likes
  7. Curt North Inactive

    I think we need to remember that Apple, Facebook, and Spotify are all private businesses and not government run. They’re free to do what they want and in the end are answerable to their shareholders. Demanding a particular show be carried smacks of the old Fairness Doctrine to me. Nobody’s freedom of speech is being stepped on that I can see. Alex Jones isn’t being arrested or even told to shut up, and his show is still carried by other outlets. He is free to say whatever he wants to whoever cares to listen. I get where you’re all coming from and I agree it’s a little chilling in some respects, but (figuratively speaking) Alex Jones is just not a hill I’m willing to die on.

    If the free market demand is high enough, Alex Jones will pop up elsewhere. I’m not shrugging it all off, but I don’t think we want to unite under this particular banner. 

    • #7
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  8. MarciN Member

    Let us hope that their actions have the exact opposite Streisand effect of what they are trying to do: actually send curious readers to those websites. I will laugh if they do.

    The tech companies are operating on thin ice. They will get away with this only for a brief while.

    I can think of countless stories about businesses that abused their customers and eventually either lost a significant market share or went completely out of business, but my favorite story is Block Buster. The company enjoyed such a monopoly that their employees were often arrogant to their customers and the company consistently overcharged customers for “overdue” CD returns. Many of their customers grew to actually hate them (especially the parents of teenagers who used mom’s rental card). One of Block Buster’s own employees was motivated to create Netflix, which started out as simply making it easier to rent a movie CD. We all know how that story ended.

    Eventually the market will correct this power glut that the present tech giants are exploiting. The low barriers to entry in the world of the Internet may be making it easy to rack up insane profits, but those low barriers are also making it easy to knock over the king of the mountain.

    This censorship action is clearly their response to the election of Donald Trump. Giving Trump access to Twitter without the media’s censors was their big mistake that they are now correcting. Democracy be damned. We will not ever again give unfettered and free access to the Internet.

    And speaking of Donald Trump, his main adversary is Jeff Bezos. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that he is promoting this unified attack. This attack strategy was successful when Sun Microsystems and Oracle worked together to bring down Bill Gates. The top of the tech mountain is small, and they all know each other.

    • #8
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:23 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  9. DrewInWisconsin, Influencer Member

    We’re faced with a dilemma. We’d prefer freedom of speech, and to that end we’ll allow “hate speech” like that of Sarah Jeong’s New York Times.

    If the New York Times hired Alex Jones, for example, the left would demand that the New York Times either fire Alex Jones, or be banned everywhere.

    We make a mistake if we think that demonstrating our tolerance for lefty hate speech (like that of Sarah Jeong’s) will result in the left learning to tolerate speech they consider hate speech. They won’t. They will continue to shut down and call for bans on conservative speech while enjoying the tolerance we show toward them.

    Forcing them to follow their own rules may be the only way they learn to back off.

    • #9
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:28 AM PDT
    • 31 likes
  10. Ekosj Inactive

    Curt North (View Comment):

    I think we need to remember that Apple, Facebook, and Spotify are all private businesses and not government run. They’re free to do what they want and in the end are answerable to their shareholders. Demanding a particular show be carried smacks of the old Fairness Doctrine to me. Nobody’s freedom of speech is being stepped on that I can see. Alex Jones isn’t being arrested or even told to shut up, and his show is still carried by other outlets. He is free to say whatever he wants to whoever cares to listen. I get where you’re all coming from and I agree it’s a little chilling in some respects, but (figuratively speaking) Alex Jones is just not a hill I’m willing to die on.

    If the free market demand is high enough, Alex Jones will pop up elsewhere. I’m not shrugging it all off, but I don’t think we want to unite under this particular banner.

    And when the bank says, “Gee Mr North, the financials look OK, but you engage in hate speech on the internet and dangerous support for the proliferation of firearms. ABC Bank won’t do business with ….“. That’s already happening. Hey. They are a private business, they can lend to whom they want. Right?

    Or when the Visa card folks notice your charge for membership in a website deemed a ‘hate group’ and Visa says something similar. Fine, right?

    • #10
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • 20 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    We make a mistake if we think that demonstrating our tolerance for lefty hate speech (like that of Sarah Jeong’s) will result in the left learning to tolerate speech they consider hate speech.

    @drewinwisconsin, when we say she has the right to be offensive, and we say that she is grossly offensive, does that look like we’re “tolerating” her? Just wondering . . .

    • #11
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    Alex Jones exists because the establishment media has lost the trust of viewers. The media will have to work much harder to regain its reputation. Driving Alex Jones – and worse elements – under ground will not help the establishment media reestablish their own trust.

     

     

    • #12
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  13. Curt North Inactive

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    And when the bank says, “Gee Mr North, the financials look OK, but you engage in hate speech on the internet and dangerous support for the proliferation of firearms. ABC Bank won’t do business with ….“. That’s already happening. Hey. They are a private business, they can lend to whom they want. Right?

    Or when the Visa card folks notice your charge for membership in a website deemed a ‘hate group’ and Visa says something similar. Fine, right?

    Banking discrimination is already protected against, do we want to open up private media platforms to the regulators like banks are? In the case of the NRA and banking, I think another bank was happy to come in to take the business. A case of the free market at work.

    I want to think people can vote with their wallets here, and like I said if the demand is there, another platform will pick up Mr. Jones and carry him. I’m not being flippant, this doesn’t give me any joy and I agree it’s chilling, but my default position is to let the market work.

    • #13
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. MarciN Member
    • #14
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Basil Fawlty Member

    Curt North (View Comment):

    I think we need to remember that Apple, Facebook, and Spotify are all private businesses and not government run. They’re free to do what they want and in the end are answerable to their shareholders. Demanding a particular show be carried smacks of the old Fairness Doctrine to me. Nobody’s freedom of speech is being stepped on that I can see. Alex Jones isn’t being arrested or even told to shut up, and his show is still carried by other outlets. He is free to say whatever he wants to whoever cares to listen. I get where you’re all coming from and I agree it’s a little chilling in some respects, but (figuratively speaking) Alex Jones is just not a hill I’m willing to die on.

    If the free market demand is high enough, Alex Jones will pop up elsewhere. I’m not shrugging it all off, but I don’t think we want to unite under this particular banner.

    What would we say if Verizon refused to provide phone and internet service to Jones because it disagreed with his politics? Interesting paywalled piece in today’s WSJ arguing that Twitter and Facebook should be treated as common carriers who must serve everyone.

    • #15
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:47 AM PDT
    • 19 likes
  16. DrewInWisconsin, Influencer Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    We make a mistake if we think that demonstrating our tolerance for lefty hate speech (like that of Sarah Jeong’s) will result in the left learning to tolerate speech they consider hate speech.

    @drewinwisconsin, when we say she has the right to be offensive, and we say that she is grossly offensive, does that look like we’re “tolerating” her? Just wondering . . .

    I don’t want to get hung up on synonyms. Let’s just say that regardless of how we feel about her hateful words and associated ideology, we allow it to exist. The free speech answer to bad speech is more speech, not less. We will counter her views with our own speech. We won’t try to shut it down.

    Let truth and falsehood grapple . . .

    The left would prefer not to grapple. They don’t want to put their ideologies to the test. They want to rig the match. 

    Censoring speech is one way they do it.

    • #16
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:50 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  17. DrewInWisconsin, Influencer Member

    Curt North (View Comment):
    Banking discrimination is already protected against . . .

    You know about Obama’s Operation Choke Point, right? Thankfully, the Trump administration ended it.

    • #17
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:53 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  18. RightAngles Member

    Curt North (View Comment):

    I think we need to remember that Apple, Facebook, and Spotify are all private businesses and not government run. They’re free to do what they want and in the end are answerable to their shareholders. Demanding a particular show be carried smacks of the old Fairness Doctrine to me. Nobody’s freedom of speech is being stepped on that I can see.

    I’m sure we all know that. What we fear is that this stuff becomes so widely accepted that nobody blinks when it starts to become codifed into law. California is already fining people hundreds of thousands for using “incorrect” pronouns. What we fear is the public becoming enured to it, then accepting it, and then actually embracing it.

    Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have way too much power and control over what information is allowed to be disseminated. Private companies or not, they have far too much control over information for this not to be a huge problem. The government saw Ma Bell as a problem once, and this is even worse than that was.

    • #18
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:54 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  19. Ekosj Inactive

    Curt North (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    And when the bank says, “Gee Mr North, the financials look OK, but you engage in hate speech on the internet and dangerous support for the proliferation of firearms. ABC Bank won’t do business with ….“. That’s already happening. Hey. They are a private business, they can lend to whom they want. Right?

    Or when the Visa card folks notice your charge for membership in a website deemed a ‘hate group’ and Visa says something similar. Fine, right?

    Banking discrimination is already protected against, do we want to open up private media platforms to the regulators like banks are? In the case of the NRA and banking, I think another bank was happy to come in to take the business. A case of the free market at work.

    I want to think people can vote with their wallets here, and like I said if the demand is there, another platform will pick up Mr. Jones and carry him. I’m not being flippant, this doesn’t give me any joy and I agree it’s chilling, but my default position is to let the market work.

    Only for ‘protected classes’. And conservatives are not one. I forget which bank it is, but in the wake of Parkland, one of the major banks recently sent an email to its business customers, saying in no uncertain terms that if they do business with gun manufacturers they should look for another bank. And the CEO of Citi said that card providers should look into something similar and that only technological limitations prevented them from taking some action sooner than later. It is already happening.

    • #19
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:54 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  20. DrewInWisconsin, Influencer Member

    Ekosj (View Comment):
    I forget which bank it is, but one of the majors recently sent an email to its business customers, saying in no uncertain terms that if they do business with gun manufacturers you should look for another bank. And the CEO of Citi said that card providers should look into something similar. It is already happening.

    “Operation Choke Point” in action.

     

    • #20
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:56 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Jim McConnell Member

    I think some folks here are confusing freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Constitution, with some sites’ freedom of association. Jones and everyone else has a right to voice their opinions, but they do not have a right to the use of someones else’s megaphone or microphone.

    Isn’t this what the florist/bakery lawsuits were about, after all?

    I agree that Facebook, et al’s selective banning of conservative points of view is unfortunate, but it needs to be addressed under a subject other than “freedom of speech.”

    • #21
    • August 6, 2018, at 11:58 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  22. MarciN Member

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Curt North (View Comment):

    I think we need to remember that Apple, Facebook, and Spotify are all private businesses and not government run. They’re free to do what they want and in the end are answerable to their shareholders. Demanding a particular show be carried smacks of the old Fairness Doctrine to me. Nobody’s freedom of speech is being stepped on that I can see. Alex Jones isn’t being arrested or even told to shut up, and his show is still carried by other outlets. He is free to say whatever he wants to whoever cares to listen. I get where you’re all coming from and I agree it’s a little chilling in some respects, but (figuratively speaking) Alex Jones is just not a hill I’m willing to die on.

    If the free market demand is high enough, Alex Jones will pop up elsewhere. I’m not shrugging it all off, but I don’t think we want to unite under this particular banner.

    What would we say if Verizon refused to provide phone and internet service to Jones because it disagreed with his politics? Interesting paywalled piece in today’s WSJ arguing that Twitter and Facebook should be treated as common carriers who must serve everyone.

    I was just thinking that myself. This access restriction could be viewed the same way.

    • #22
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Aaron Miller Member

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Eventually the market will correct this power glut that the present tech giants are exploiting.

    I doubt it. How long has Hollywood been full of commies, hippies, and libertines? 

    Besides, we don’t have more than a generation or two at this rate until the unabashed hatemongering and intolerance from the Left overwhelms the legal and social order. Wherever thugs and vandals reign by intimidation, they do not constitute a majority of citizens. For every true believer, more than a few sympathizers will enjoin the oppression because of peer pressure or more substantial threats. 

    Censorship by law is more disturbing than censorship by refusal of private service. But racial desegregation laws testify of the intolerable degree to which the latter can sink.

    • #23
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  24. DrewInWisconsin, Influencer Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    I think some folks here are confusing freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Constitution, with some sites’ freedom of association. Jones and everyone else has a right to voice their opinions, but they do not have a right to the use of someones else’s megaphone or microphone.

    Isn’t this what the florist/bakery lawsuits were about, after all?

    I agree that Facebook, et al’s selective banning of conservative points of view is unfortunate, but it needs to be addressed under a subject other than “freedom of speech.”

    There are a different aspects to free speech that we need to keep in mind. One can say that if a private company is censoring speech, it’s not illegal and so we shouldn’t complain about it. After all, we probably all agree that a private company has the right to do such a thing.

    However, there’s also a societal aspect, in which we should feel free to express our views publicly. And when such speech is routinely stifled (even if not by the government) then we are right to suggest that freedom of speech is being curtailed. It might not rise to the level of a legal issue, but it is a form of censorship nevertheless.

     

    • #24
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:07 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  25. Mate De Inactive

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    When Ricochet starts suggesting that Sandy Hook was a hoax, I guess that Ricochet would be banned. Of course, I would be long gone by then.

    Do you believe they will stop at Alex Jones?

    Exactly. I don’t particularly like Alex Jones, and if he wants to come up with crazy conspiracy theories, even disgusting ones like Sandy Hook, he has that right. I’m not sure if any 9/11 truthers were ever banned from any of these platforms. You have to ask yourself, are you for Free Speech or not? Sure, Alex Jones is an easy one to demonize but this is a slippery slope and you don’t want to give in to the tyranny of the left especially when it comes to free speech.

    • #25
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:07 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  26. Basil Fawlty Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):
    Isn’t this what the florist/bakery lawsuits were about, after all?

    Not really. Facebook et. al. aren’t refusing to produce Jones’s programs for him. They’re refusing to allow him to use their services entirely.

    (Edited to avoid picking on Twitter.)

    • #26
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:07 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  27. Hoyacon Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    When Ricochet starts suggesting that Sandy Hook was a hoax, I guess that Ricochet would be banned. 

    That’s OK, since I’ve never seen you claim to be a free speech advocate.

    • #27
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  28. Mate De Inactive

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    I think some folks here are confusing freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Constitution, with some sites’ freedom of association. Jones and everyone else has a right to voice their opinions, but they do not have a right to the use of someones else’s megaphone or microphone.

    Isn’t this what the florist/bakery lawsuits were about, after all?

    I agree that Facebook, et al’s selective banning of conservative points of view is unfortunate, but it needs to be addressed under a subject other than “freedom of speech.”

    The problem is the monopoly of these platforms. Also, they have made claims that they are open forums. We all know that isn’t true but they make that claim. There are cases in the courts regarding if these companies have become almost like utilities. We shall see how this pans out but this isn’t a good trend.

    • #28
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:10 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  29. Hoyacon Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    I think some folks here are confusing freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Constitution, with some sites’ freedom of association. Jones and everyone else has a right to voice their opinions, but they do not have a right to the use of someones else’s megaphone or microphone.

    Isn’t this what the florist/bakery lawsuits were about, after all?

    I agree that Facebook, et al’s selective banning of conservative points of view is unfortunate, but it needs to be addressed under a subject other than “freedom of speech.”

    That’s precisely the issue, however. Complaining about a content-based ban is different than suggesting that the private entities don’t have the right to effectuate the ban. In the latter instance, I don’t see many (any?) claiming that these companies are acting unconstitutionally. However, they are acting in contravention of the spirit of the concept of freedom of speech–unless Jones has, somewhere that I’m unaware of, advocated violent action.

    • #29
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:15 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  30. Curt North Inactive

    I really hate being in a place where I seem to be defending the lefty tech giants, and I’m not specifically defending them. I’m trying to defend the right of a private business to do business with who they want. Obviously I’m not talking about discrimination based on race, gender, etc.

    If the tech giants are forced to carry Alex Jones, should Ricochet be forced to carry a Bill Press podcast because the left deems it unfair not to?

    • #30
    • August 6, 2018, at 12:25 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
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