Finally, InfoWars has been dropped by some major distributors. Facebook, iTunes and Spotify no longer carry their podcasts or host some of their pages — hopefully in what is the first step in a long journey into combatting “fake news” and hate speech.
For those who don’t know, InfoWars is a platform which peddles conspiracy theories and whey protein to paranoid men. I’m sure we could have healthy debates over the journalistic reputations of Fox News Entertainment or CNN, but we could never have one about InfoWars.
They’re the platform who claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, and that no real children died in that horrible tragedy, stating that it was all staged to “advance the liberal agenda”. They’re also the platform who’re being sued by the parents of the children who were murdered — which will hopefully put them out of pocket by a few million.
InfoWars is fronted by an angry-faced man named Alex Jones, who looks as though he ate Kevin James immediately after Kevin James had contracted a rare tropical disease. He spouts the most insane conspiracy theories that play on people’s desire to assume that the world is out to get them, specifically.
I think Alex Jones and InfoWars are a part of an early wave of online content creators, and that hopefully we can do better than him going forward. Obviously digital communication will shape the next hundred years of society, until the next big thing hits — but the 21st century is all about connecting with each other.
What Alex Jones did is he realised that he could make millions of dollars, simply by tapping into people’s long-held prejudices and reenforcing their opinions by presenting them as fact; By making his zero-researched web platform look like a traditional news show.
This is the desk that Alex Jones presents from, he has the illusion of “news” by surrounding himself with the semiotic signifiers of journalism. He’s got pieces of paper on the desk, a big screen in the background, an open tablet computer; Just like cable news. Yet, this blog, these words you’re reading right now — they’re better researched than anything that is spewed on InfoWars.
This blog is just a bunch of rambling opinions for nobody in particular, designed purely for one person (me) to think and then write about something different every day. Alex Jones is doing the exact same thing, but tells you that it’s the absolute truth and that everyone else is lying.
We need to understand that there’s a huge difference between “left wing bias”/”right wing bias” and actual, legitimately harmful “fake news” stories.
Some adults are already too far down the rabbit hole, and they’ll believe anything they see on the internet just because it backs-up their personal opinions. I remember being online ten-some years ago, when not everyone had cracked the whole internet thing yet, and Facebook was only just becoming popular with people who weren’t college students. Back then you had to go to the deepest corners of the internet to find people who were seriously talking about the things Jones talks about.
Now, his videos get millions of views and open up wide discussions. It’s no longer just Bill and Pete talking on conspiracyhead.co.net about why 9/11 definitely was carried out by the future Obama administration — it’s Alex Jones on InfoWars.
Here are some reasons as to why the market for this brand of “fake news” has increased:
- The less tech-savvy people are now online — In the last ten years, the sorts of people who would’ve listened to conspiracy radio shows are now seeking them out online and seeing them as a news source, purely because they don’t know how to read media.
- A lack of education — Disenfranchised young-people are turning to these sources for information, because they don’t want cable news, and they might not want to read any long-form online journalism. Alex Jones is the easy, angry sound-bite for those who feel left behind.
- A lack of regulation — Governments are only now starting to realise that anyone can say the most outlandish things, and people will believe it. Until today, InfoWars has been allowed on mainstream platforms, despite the fact that its content is harmful to younger eyes.
That, for me, is the scariest part. We now have a generation of online consumers who’ve probably never watched cable news, but have grown up watching their parents using devices that are connected to the internet. I wonder how much their parents have taught them about media literacy before they begin to consume other people’s ideologies; Which when spouted without the use of sources, science or statistics, can be horribly damaging.
Something tells me that InfoWars will be able to use these bans as a way of furthering the us vs them mentality they have; This punk-rock idea that prays on an ageing Gen-X and younger Baby Boomers. They’ll rant for weeks about how the mainstream don’t want them to tell the truth, and that it’s all some kind of conspiracy. When the reality is that they peddle unfounded lies and hate-speech, in order to sell products and merchandise — Something I believe they are self-aware of.
If InfoWars was ever banned from being on the entire internet, then I’d fight for their right to have freedom of speech. They’re not banned from being online, they’re just banned from what’re the modern equivalent of town-squares and shopping centres. They can no longer set up a stall at a privately owned event, in an attempt to sell their conspiracies to the public — but they can still meet in private where people can join them if they so choose.
Again, this isn’t about the “liberal elites” shutting down the “free-thinking media”, this is about major companies finally making common-sense decisions in regards to fake-news, propaganda and hate speech.
InfoWars needs to fade away into insignificance. Personally, I’d welcome the rise of a well-sourced, well-researched and professionally presented digital conservative platform — because it’s healthy to have prominent voices from both sides of the isle.
What’s not healthy, however, is telling millions of people that the government controls the weather, that the Earth is flat and that mass-shootings never even happened.
Today is Monday, August 6th and there’s a lot of crazy in the world right now, with not a whole lot of diagnosing.