Technology firms move to curb one of the loudest voices in conspiracy theories, fueling further debate over free speech online.
Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify removed from their services large portions of content posted by the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars site, a major step by big technology firms to curb one of the most prominent online voices trafficking in misinformation.
Apple on Sunday removed five of the six Infowars podcasts on its popular Podcasts app. Commenting on the move, a spokeswoman said, “Apple does not tolerate hate speech.”
Facebook, YouTube and Spotify, which for weeks had faced calls that they remove Infowars content, followed with similar measures. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”
YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories. The site has repeatedly claimed, for example, that high-ranking Democrats operate a vast child sex-abuse ring, and that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian efforts to undermine America’s electoral process and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to to those efforts, has helped to cover it up.
Mr. Jones is facing defamation lawsuits filed by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting for claiming the shooting was an elaborate hoax.
Mr. Jones and Infowars did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a message posted on Twitter on Monday, Mr. Jones said: “We’ve been banned completely on Facebook, Apple & Spotify. What conservative outlet will be next?” He railed against the tech companies on his live show on Monday, which was streamed on the Infowars website, saying their moves were part of a leftist agenda in advance of the midterm elections.
The big tech firms that control, via their websites and apps, how media content is distributed have faced criticism in recent weeks for enabling Mr. Jones and Infowars, which rely largely on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to reach their audiences.