They’re calling it the purge: YouTubers who until now have been able to spew their conspiracy theories consequence-free have suddenly found their channels unceremoniously banned.
Richie Allen, David Seaman, Titus Frost, and Bombard’s Body Language, along with small-fry like GeorgeGreekTrucker, have all fallen.
Even (hold onto your hats) the mighty InfoWars was affected last week.
According to Fox News:
Infowars, a conspiracy website that suggested survivors of the Florida school shooting were coached on their pleas for gun control, said its video account was temporarily frozen by YouTube.
The suspension for harassment and bullying was subsequently lifted, the site said said Wednesday. YouTube, which is owned by Google, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Infowars said Tuesday it had multiple videos removed from YouTube, including one in which host Owen Shroyer alleged that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg “can’t remember his lines” during a TV interview following the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead. Among other videos it said were removed was one titled, “The Truth About Crisis Actors In The Florida Shooting.”
The site said it also received a strike, or warning, for harassment and bullying. It said a second strike that was assessed early Tuesday was removed hours later. According to YouTube policy, two strikes results in the creator being unable to upload videos for two weeks. Infowars continuously uploaded videos to its “Alex Jones Channel” Tuesday.
“There’s a major purge going on,” Alex Jones, the well-known right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio show host who owns the site, said in an interview. He has called the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax. “If you want to live in communist China, we’re almost there.”
Much of the purge seems to be related to the recent mass murder at a Florida high school.
With mind-numbing predictability, conspiraloons leapt upon the story like hungry dingoes, trying to be first to claim that one of the Parkland massacre victims, David Hogg, was a crisis actor. It appears that many of the channels which were pulled had run videos making that claim, though YouTube’s rationale for the purge has not been fully clarified yet.
While it’s been refreshing to watch some of the most pernicious YouTubers disappear, anyone who’s watched the behaviour of conspiraloons would be able to predict the inevitable fallout.
A recent article in The Guardian stated,
‘If you believe your institutions are conspiring and then you expose it and then they ban your speech, how could you not think that that’s part of it?’ said Joseph Uscinski, a University of Miami professor and conspiracy theory expert. If Jones and Infowars continue to face YouTube censorship, he added, ‘it will convince his fans that he’s on to something.’
We’ve all seen this happen: a Hoaxtead pusher is arrested, and the baying mobs are immediately up in arms, declaring that the defendant “must be getting too close to the truth”, or is being “harassed by the powers that be”.
So what’s the answer? Allowing people to make demonstrably false and damaging claims simply spreads the cancer of disinformation across the internet, drawing more and more people into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories like the ludicrous “#QAnon”.
But taking what some would call draconian measures to remove the material from the internet only seems to fuel the fire, driving troofers to sites where their delusions can grow and prosper.
Ultimately, we think, it’s a numbers game.
Tech companies must be held accountable for the harmful drivel they allow on their sites, even when removing channels could cause a bit of a furor among the troofers. Companies like Google and Facebook need to understand that they have a public responsibility to do the right thing, even if it enrages a small segment of the population.
It can seem to those of us who follow such things that the world is full to the brim with conspirasheep who are only too willing to trade critical thought for the latest fairy stories making the rounds. However, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of people are not, in fact, conspiracy followers.
If you ask the average person whether the world is run by a cabal of elite Satanists who eat babies, that average person is likely to look at you as though you’re a few bricks shy of a load.
So while those whose YouTube channels have received strikes or have been removed will howl and wail at the injustice of it all, and will tell anyone who’ll listen that this is proof that the powers that be really are after them, their audience is by definition a limited one.
And that’s a good thing.