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By Brie Ginman 

This article discusses the key takeaways from the third episode of the Straddl Podcast: Double Tap

In this week’s episode of Double Tap, I tapped into my love for conspiracy and spoke with Alex and Brittany about the infamous Alex Jones and why he matters to the media and communications industry.

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Yep, that’s the one. The mad, conspiracy and fake news driven Alex Jones. It seems Alex Jones appeared out of nowhere, his fame purely driven by Internet culture and memes. So you must understand my shock when I discovered Alex Jones and his company; Free Speech Systems LLC was founded in 1999. Nearly twenty years ago!

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That’s right, this foil-headed man has been running around sharing his far-fetched opinions for almost twenty years. But there is no such thing as a wrong opinion, right?

Well.

Alex Jones’ Infowars is a far-right American conspiracy theory and fake news website and they happily advertise themselves as such. Some of their most infamous news stories include allegations of 9/11 and the Sandy Hook Shooting is ‘false flag’ operations (i.e. Planned by the Government for an unknown agenda.)

For Alex Jones to enter the community sphere of these events and accuse the victim’s own Government of comprising their own safety is terrifying and extremely disrespectful, to say the least. However, Internet culture can’t seem to stop laughing at some of his most famous quotes including; “turn the frogs gay.” 

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But with all jokes aside about how stupidly ridiculous his ‘rant’ videos are; Ian McQuaid from the website Ransom Note claims that we should not be paying attention to Alex Jones anymore.

He builds interconnected palaces of compelling nonsense. And, right now, as the world floods us with information, and situations spiral into increasing complexity, the last person we should trust is the one with simple answers.

McQuaid makes a very serious point. Alex Jones has begun to make his way into mainstream politics and people are listening and it may be because we don’t know how else to comprehend the madness of the world today.

So you’re probably thinking, I could have looked this up all online, what is your point?

Due to the nature of Alex Jones’ Infowars content, iTunes, Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, and YouTube have removed all of the audio, video and text content from their platforms, claiming that it violates hate-speech policies.

Some people are saying this stream of events has caused the redefining of free speech on the Internet. This concept may seem new but laws have been adjusted before, in order to deal with the mass market media era of television and newspaper. Now it’s social media turn to evolve with the ever-changing digital environment.

Now before I can say; this is what it means to us practitioners, there are two points that should be made very clear.

  1. Free Speech laws only protect citizens against speech restrictions by the Government and Government Actors. Social media platforms are not Government actors.
  2. Hate speech in itself is not a legal category.

In simple terms; the Government can’t control the Internet, but the platforms can. In saying that however, how can we put this pressure onto the platforms that literally made to share creations and opinions? Jeff Jarvis from the On Point Podcast supports this when he stated:

“Mark Zuckerberg is not responsible for free speech in the world. The internet is a public square, the internet as a whole, but the various platforms on it, including your show’s own website, and the New York Times’s comments, and letters to the editor of the Washington Post, those are all controlled ways in which the public has a conversation.”

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So to sum this whole baby up, what does this mean? Who is Alex Jones and Why Should You Care?

As media communication emerging practitioners, we are tech and social media natives. We have always been aware of issues similar to this (i.e. bullying and unconsented nude leaks). But at the end of the day, if we are working for a business or agency, it is in our best interest to follow the rules of the platform we are using.

The world is becoming more terrifying every single day and the Internet and social media platforms are changing with it to ensure the safety and protection of their users. 

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