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Sat Mar 28, 2020, 10:04 AM

Google Pulls Infowars App From Play Store; YouTube, Twitter, Apple Already Dumped It

On Friday, Google removed the Infowars Android app from its Play Store, extinguishing one of the last mainstream strongholds of infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The takedown comes on the heels of a video, posted in the Infowars app last week and viewed by WIRED, in which Jones disputed the need for social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine efforts meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Google confirmed to WIRED that it removed the app on Friday. The app had more than 100,000 downloads according to Google Play's published metrics, and was rated "E10+," meaning safe for all users 10 and older. The Infowars app sold products like supplements and protein powder, broadcast The Alex Jones Show live, and posted videos and articles from Jones and others. "Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team," a Google spokesperson told WIRED. "When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store."


Google is far from the first tech giant to block or ban Infowars content. In fact, Google-owned YouTube suspended The Alex Jones Channel in August 2018, after mounting pressure from critics that platforms should enforce their anti-hate speech policies. Facebook took action against several Jones-operated pages that same day, as did Twitter with Infowars-related accounts the next month. Facebook instituted a full ban of Alex Jones and Infowars content across all of its platforms in May 2019. Apple's iOS App Store, Google Play's main competitor, already banned the Infowars app more than a year ago during the late summer 2018 blitz. In the wake of all the mainstream bans, Jones and his supporters have repeatedly maintained that blocking Infowars and Jones' content only spreads it farther and makes it more popular. But research indicates that so-called "deplatforming" actions do effectively reduce the spread of hate speech, misinformation, and conspiracy theories. The bigger question is why Google waited so long to take action against Infowars given that its peer organizations did so a year and a half ago.

Tech services and social networks have long touted their role as defenders of free speech. But rampant abuse, misinformation, and coordinated disinformation campaigns carried out by nation states on the platforms have brought the industry to a new understanding in recent years of its necessary role in policing violent and dangerous content. The industry has also specifically moved to crack down on misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic in the last few weeks. A joint statement from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube last week said that the companies are pledging to help "millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus."



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Reply Google Pulls Infowars App From Play Store; YouTube, Twitter, Apple Already Dumped It (Original post)
hatrack Mar 28 OP
gibraltar72 Mar 28 #1

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Sat Mar 28, 2020, 10:07 AM

1. Bad things keep happening to good people.

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