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Dis-Infowars: No bright lines for online standards

August 09. 2018 11:10PM

On today’s Opinion page, ACLU-NH’s Gilles Bissonnette argues that online companies should not censor offensive speech.

This week, Apple removed five podcasts posted by Infowars host Alex Jones. Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify quickly followed.

Jones earned this treatment several times over. He is hateful, dishonest, and cruel, spinning baseless conspiracy theories and degrading our politics. Online companies are under no obligation to let Jones use their platform to spread his lies.

In the Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last writes in support of banning Jones, and says conservatives should not defend him. When the right complains that leftists like Louis Farrakhan are not held to the same standard as Jones, Last says ban them, too.

The problem is that there is no bright line between the blatant dishonesty of Infowars and other sites that may be merely unpopular.

Conservatives are rightly skeptical of Silicon Valley executives deciding what political content should be banned. Supposedly objective algorithms have proven to skew against conservatives. Facebook and Google have used left-wing groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center as fact checkers. YouTube says it will add “Explainers” under videos it deems insufficiently supportive of climate change theory.

Online platforms serve their customers when they kick out Alex Jones. Those customers should insist on caution and fairness on where companies draw that line.

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