It’s been a bad week for conspiraloons online, what with Alex Jones’ InfoWars having been given the old heave-ho from Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube (though Twitter hasn’t removed him and claims it has no plans to do so).
When asked about the decision to remove InfoWars, Facebook and Apple cited concerns about hate speech, which they have apparently only just noticed now. It’s speculated that the mass removal of Jones’ conspiraloon fodder stems from his claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook mass murder which killed six adults and 20 children was faked from start to finish. This has led to the families of murdered children being harassed both online and in person, and has resulted in three defamation lawsuits against Jones.
Here’s the 2014 video where Alex Jones directly calls the Sandy Hook massacre a hoax “with actors” pic.twitter.com/5IrCkZXBWC
— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) April 19, 2018
Note that Jones made this disgusting direct claim in 2014, though he had hinted at it previously.
So it’s really not as if the various social media giants are acting in a timely and appropriate manner: the families of the Sandy Hook victims have had to endure this outrage for more than four years.
Writing on Gizmodo yesterday, Brian Menegus said,
A variety of companies, all of which knew exactly what Jones’s brand was and the sorts of claims he made on air, finally caved to years of public pressure in recent days, starting with Spotify pulling episodes of his podcast from their service. Once Apple joined in, the rest of big tech, not to be left holding the bag, marched in lockstep to remove Infowars. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even Mailchimp all put the kibosh on Jones’s groundless war for your mind, in favor of their own battle for more money and less public outrage.
Predictably, Jones did not react well to having his
money-making machine access to social media channels shut down. These days he can be found bellowing into the void on Google+, which has a reputation as a social media gulag. Menegus called Google+ “the platform which, like YouTube, is owned by Alphabet, and which the company itself may be unaware it still operates, let alone that Jones is on it”.
And of course Jones is still using Twitter, the one big channel which will still have him, in a desperate attempt to amplify his hateful message, which these days seems pretty much limited to, “The powers that be are censoring me!!!1!”
Hardly predictable at all.
Meanwhile The Onion reports,
Cautioning against the devastating effects of abandoning the daily regimen of essential vitamins and minerals, radio host Alex Jones warned his fans Tuesday that quitting his supplements cold turkey could lead to homosexuality and Judaism. ‘Folks, if you miss even one day of your Anthroplex or Survival Shield X-2, you’re immediately going to start feeling Jewish, gay, or worse,’ said the beleaguered InfoWars founder and staunch male virility advocate, emphasizing to his loyal followers that if their bodies were deprived of certain vital testosterone-enhancing products, dangerous symptoms of Deep State–adjacent illnesses could manifest just 72 hours after one’s last dosage.
‘Remember, your body requires these supplements in order to function properly. Without them, it will begin to completely shut down—the globalist levels in your bloodstream will shoot up, your tolerance for other people will skyrocket, and soon you’ll be attending a trans visibility march with a college-educated platonic female friend before lighting a menorah to kick off a gay orgy at Barack Obama’s house’.
The horror, the horror.
Battle of the Anons
Meanwhile QAnon, the cultish monster Conspiracy Theory to End All Conspiracy Theories, may be facing an unexpected challenge: Anonymous.
Last week at a Tampa, Florida “MAGA Tour” rally addressed by Donald Trump, several QAnon enthusiasts went public, waving posters and sporting “Q” clothing to indicate their support for “Q”, a person whose posts on 8Chan have kept troofers enthralled since last October.
The Tampa rally marked one of the first known public displays by “Q” enthusiasts, who exemplify the late Hunter S. Thompson’s maxim: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”.
‘The craziest theory of the Trump era’
What is QAnon, exactly? In The Daily Beast a few weeks ago, Will Sommer explained:
QAnon springs from a series of cryptic clues that started to be posted online in October 2017. Starting on 4Chan before migrating to the even more fringe 8Chan, the anonymous person behind the clues goes by “Q,” a reference to a high-level government security clearance. The “Anon” in “QAnon” refers to both Q himself, and to Q’s nameless supporters, the “anons.”
Q is supposed to be revealing this top-secret information via the clues, which QAnon fans have dubbed “breadcrumbs.” They’re written in a short bursts, in a reference-heavy style that’s part poem, part ransom note. …
Since Q could be anyone with internet access and a working knowledge of conspiracy theories, there’s no reason to think that Q is a member of the Trump administration rather than, say, a troll or YouTube huckster. But incredibly, lots of people believe it.Since Q’s “breadcrumbs” are so vague, it’s impossible to nail down exactly what the storyline is supposed to be.
[T]he general story, outlined in a pro-QAnon video…is that every president before Trump was a “criminal president” in league with all the nefarious groups of conspiracy theories past: the global banking elite, death squads operating on orders from Hillary Clinton, deep-state intelligence operatives, and Pizzagate-style pedophile rings. In an effort to break this cabal’s grip, according to Q, the military convinced Trump to run for president.
Since then, the story goes, Trump has been fighting nobly in the background against the Deep State. He’s been arresting paedophiles by the truck-load and sending them, along with Hillary Clinton and the Podesta brothers and pretty well anyone else the loony Right doesn’t like off to Guantanamo Bay to await trial.
Oh, and that whole Mueller investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia and its oligarchs? Totally a smokescreen. Mueller is actually just claiming to be investigating Trump and his cronies. In reality, he’s giving them cover so that they can do their important work. Which, we should add, “Q” would be placing in extreme jeopardy if any of his stories were actually true. But they’re not, so oh well.
So what about Anonymous?
Oh right, Anonymous.
A couple of days ago The Hill, a political website which covers U.S. politics, broke the story that Anonymous, the anarchist hacking collective known for launching DDOS attacks on the Church of $cientology, among other targets, has vowed to expose the people behind QAnon.
According to The Hill‘s Brett Samuels,
The anarchist hacking group slammed the QAnon conspiracy as potentially dangerous and driven by a “brainless political agenda” in a video posted Sunday to what is widely considered the most reliable Anonymous Twitter account.
“We will not sit idly by while you take advantage of the misinformed and poorly educated,” the group said in the video, which was posted with the hashtags #OpQ and #OpQAnon.
While it’s impossible to predict at this point what, if any, effect Anonymous’ “War on QAnon” will have, it may signal a turning point in online conspiracy theories.
With mainstream social media channels suddenly realising that it’s no longer cool to let people like Alex Jones hang out on their virtual street corners spewing his special brand of poison, and “underground” collectives like Anonymous deciding that enough is enough when it comes to QAnon, a new “war on terror” may be about to begin. Stay tuned.