WASHINGTON — Twitter on Tuesday suspended the account of the far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video calling for supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready against media & others, in a violation of the company’s rules against inciting violence.
The action effectively prevents Jones from tweeting or retweeting from his personal account for seven days, though he will be able to browse Twitter. The Twitter account for Infowars, the media website founded by Jones, was not affected.
The move was Twitter’s harshest against Jones after other tech companies took steps last week to ban him from their platforms. The removals began when Apple announced it would purge videos & other content by Jones & Infowars because of hate speech, followed by FB, YouTube & then Spotify. Twitter was the sole holdout among the major tech companies in not taking down content from Jones, who has called the Sandy Hook shooting a hoax conducted by crisis actors.
Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has been resolute in the company’s decision to keep Jones’s account online. He has said Twitter did not think that Infowars & Jones violated its rules, which prohibit direct threats of violence & some forms of hate speech but allow deception or misinformation.
But the lack of action prompted criticism of Twitter from its users — & even from some of its own employees. Late last week, Twitter began softening its tone, especially after CNN & others found more than half a dozen tweets from Jones that clearly violated the company’s policies. Twitter said it ordered Jones to take those tweets down.
Even so, Twitter’s action on Tuesday stops short of a full ban of Jones from Twitter & leaves many questions unanswered about what actually gets people booted off the service. The company’s policy calls for the short-term suspension of an account after repeated violations, but Twitter declined to clarify how many offenses would terminate Jones’s account permanently.
The suspension began after Jones tweeted or retweeted more than a dozen times during the day on Tuesday, including one post that linked to a live video session in which he apparently called for violence against certain groups, including the media. After a user flagged the tweet, Twitter said it determined the post violated its safety rules. Jones was ordered to take down the tweet linking to the video broadcast on Periscope, the live-streaming service that is owned by Twitter.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment beyond confirming that Jones’s new tweet broke its rules & that he was frozen out of using the service for a week.