Facebook took action against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones late Thursday when it banned the InfoWars host from using his account for the next 30 days. According to a report from CNET, Facebook banned Jones after it determined four videos on his pages violated its community standards.
Those four videos have since been removed from Jones’ channels. It’s unclear exactly which videos they were, but it’s likely at least some were the same videos that YouTube removed from its site just days ago. One of those videos, titled “How to Prevent Liberalism,” which showed a young boy being pushed to the ground by an adult male, is no longer hosted on InfoWars’ Facebook page.
However, Jones’ recent video in which he attacks Special Counsel Robert Mueller and mimes shooting him remains up on Facebook. The company still claims that the video doesn’t violate its community standards.
The ban affects Jones personally, meaning he cannot post to his various pages for the next 30 days. However, his colleagues who are Facebook admins for the Alex Jones Channel’s and InfoWars’ pages can continue to post content. Jones received a ban because his personal account already received a warning in the past.
According to CNET’s report, a Facebook spokesperson said that Jones’ page “faces a permanent ban from the site” if he and his other admins continue to break Facebook’s rules.
Facebook’s actions come after YouTube issued a new strike against Jones’ channel earlier this week and removed four videos that violated its community guidelines. The Alex Jones Channel received a strike back in February, but that has since expired. On YouTube, channels that receive three strikes within three months are terminated.
Facebook has come under fire for allowing Alex Jones and his conspiratorial content to live on its social network with few consequences (until now). The company is drawing a line by banning Jones for 30 days, but it’s unclear if it would have done so if the news of Jones being punished on YouTube hadn’t bubbled to the surface.
While Facebook’s and YouTube’s community rules have similarities between them, Facebook focuses on “direct attacks” when it comes to hate speech and other inflammatory content. What’s considered hate speech on YouTube may not be considered hate speech on Facebook—and it appears Facebook is still figuring out which types of inflammatory content it will issue warnings and bans for.
The account dynamic on Facebook also poses complications: Jones is banned from posting for the next 30 days, but all other admins for Jones’ channel and InfoWars are not. On the other hand, YouTube issues strikes to whole channels: in Jones’ most recent case, he’s banned from live streaming on his channel for 90 days. That means no one with access to The Alex Jones Channel can live stream from that channel for 90 days. On Facebook, punishing the InfoWars host isn’t the same as punishing the InfoWars page. These kinds of situations will continue to come up on Facebook as it separates personal accounts from pages.
Update, 11:18am ET: A Facebook spokesperson provided Ars with more background on this situation. Three of the four videos that were removed were first reported to Facebook yesterday. The fourth was reported about one month ago, but Facebook incorrectly determined that it did not violate its community standards at the time. Upon re-review, Facebook decided to take down the video for its violation.
In regard to punishments for personal accounts and pages, Facebook issues a strike to the page admin that posted the content violation as well as the page on which it was posted. When a page gets a certain number of strikes (Facebook did not provide a specific number), the page is unpublished. A 30-day ban, which Jones’ personal account was issued in this case, is the result of multiple content violations. Facebook notified Jones of his previous violations and also informed him that a 30-day ban was imminent if he violated the community standards again.