By Josh Wright | @joshuawright098
Sub-edited by Jasmine Wing
In January, the US talk show “InfoWars” was removed on Roku, whilst his own Instagram account was taken down early May. In April, British far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, was banned from the social media app Snapchat.
Both Jones and Robinson claim their voices are being silenced by a ‘left-wing bias’ in the media. However, it’s not the whole story.
Before the 2016 US mid-terms, Facebook purged 810 pages and accounts, including “Right Wing News”, which had 3.1 million follows, but it had also closed left-wing groups and pages such as “Reverb Press”, with 816,000 follows, alongside “The Resistance”, “Snowflakes” and others. Facebook used the excuse of deleting spam and bot accounts, but many of these sites, had been amassing followers for years prior.
Both Jones and Yaxley-Lennon employ underdog paranoia to expand and cement their opinions and their audience. Cutting their platforms only encourage their conspiratorial beliefs, so even if they are unwilling to submit to calm and civil debates, shutting down their platform outright is wrong. In the words of US left-wing comedian Jimmy Dore (who also claims to be a victim of censorship, due to the demonetisation of dozens of his YouTube videos):
“The antidote to bad speech isn’t censorship, the antidote to bad speech is MORE SPEECH not LESS. If you don’t like what Alex Jones has to say, then set up a Facebook page to [be] Called “Debunking Alex Jones”. Censorship always backfires and has myriad unintended consequences.”
Instead, we as a society should employ equally emotive, but also factual and rational arguments, to curtail potential audiences. Like anyone with radical or extreme opinions, pushing a vulnerable individual away now, will lead them into bigger, more dangerous activities later. Reach out, because open hearts lead to open minds.