Alex Jones, First Amendment, Digital Public Square
The Problem Isn’t Alex Jones’ Free Speech, It’s Digital Platform Monopolies
The Infowars host hasn’t been silenced, but he feels he’s been denied an audience because the big tech platforms have a monopoly on your eyeballs.
Alex Jones, the head of a right-wing lifestyle brand selling paranoid insanity ― and boner pills ― complained this week that his suspension from a handful of major digital platforms constitutes an assault on the First Amendment and his right to free speech. He wasn’t the first person to be booted from an online platform and he won’t be the last.
The platforms said they suspended the Infowars host for violating their terms of service related to hate speech, harassment and targeted abuse. For Jones and others who have had their accounts blocked, the platforms’ actions ― often made under tremendous public pressure ― feel like censorship. But casting this as a First Amendment violation makes little sense. It’s not.
Jones doesn’t feel censored because moderating content on a platform is the equivalent of government censorship ― after all, he still has his own website where he can continue to slander the parents of murdered children. The reason is that platforms like Facebook and YouTube have reached such scale that if you run a media company, even ― rather, especially ― one that deals in conspiracies, you need to be on them to reach an audience.
The problem here is that certain platforms have monopolized the market for audiences.