The removal follows enforcement actions by platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify and is the largest crackdown on conspiratorial news content by a technology company to date.
Apple has removed the entire library for five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcast apps, BuzzFeed News has learned. Among the podcasts, which were removed from Apples’ iTunes directory, are the show “War Room” as well as the popular Alex Jones Show podcast, which is hosted daily by the prominent conspiracy theorist.
Apple’s decision to remove all episodes of Jones’ popular show — rather than just specific offending episodes — is one of the largest enforcement actions intended to curb conspiratorial news content by a technology company to date. Apple did not host Jones’s shows, but it offered an index that allowed anyone with an iPhone to find and subscribe to them. Though Apple is far from Jones and Infowars’ only distribution platform, the decision to pull Jones’ content will considerably limit the outlet’s audio reach — as of 2018, Apple’s Podcasts platform amassed 50 billion all-time downloads and streams.
In a statement Sunday evening to BuzzFeed News, Apple confirmed that it notified Jones of the decision to remove the five shows under its hate speech guidelines earlier this weekend. “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” a company spokesperson said. “Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
The sweeping move is just the latest in a line of technology companies taking action against Jones and Infowars for violating rules against hateful content. Last month Facebook and YouTube each pulled down four videos posted by Jones and the conspiracy outlet Infowars while Facebook suspended Jones from its platform for 30 days. Last week, Spotify and the podcast app Stitcher followed suit, removing specific episodes of Jones’ audio show, citing hateful content policies.
As the internet’s largest podcast platform, Apple faced pressure all week from media and activists to remove Jones and Infowars from its services. Sleeping Giants, the online activist group which has lobbied for tech platforms to cut all ties with Jones, roundly condemned Apple last week for being slow to join Spotify and Stitcher, suggesting Jones’ content routinely breaks the company’s terms of service.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Sleeping Giants praised the removal on Sunday night. “While companies like Facebook, YouTube and Spotify have been twisting themselves into pretzels inventing ways to avoid having to enforce their own Terms Of Service on Alex Jones, it’s great to hear that Apple, whose reach is so broad, is willing to do it,” a spokesperson for the company wrote.
Despite Jones’ long track record of pushing fringe conspiracies — in recent weeks Jones has pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that Democrats were planning to start a civil war this July 4 — the sweeping nature of Apple’s content crackdown is likely to rekindle an ongoing political and cultural battle over the role that tech platforms have in moderating misinformation, propaganda, and hate speech.
As of Sunday evening, only one Infowars podcast — a daily news recap show called “Real News With David Knight” — remains on the platform. It’s not immediately clear why the show was unaffected; Apple declined to comment on the status of “Real News With David Knight.”
Alex Jones did not respond to a request for comment.
Originally published at Buzzfeed