Twitter permanently bans Alex Jones

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for Alex Jones to show up where Jack Dorsey was testifying Wednesday and start shouting at him. Today, Twitter announced Jones was permanently banned from the site.

According to ABC News, it wasn’t Jones’ shouting at Dorsey or the spat with Senator Marco Rubio which was the last straw. Instead, it was Jones’ treatment of CNN’s Oliver Darcy:

Twitter said Jones posted a video on Wednesday that violates the company’s policy against “abusive behavior.”

The video in question showed Jones shouting at and berating CNN journalist Oliver Darcy for some 10 minutes in between two congressional hearings focused on social media. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified at both hearings, but did not appear to witness the confrontation…

Jones heckled Darcy in a public hallway where reporters were waiting to enter the House committee room. He criticized the journalist’s reporting and appearance, referencing his “skinny jeans” and repeatedly saying, “just look at this guy’s eyes” and “look at that smile.”

At one point, he said Darcy was “smiling like a possum that crawled out of the rear end of a dead cow. That’s what you look like. You look like a possum that got caught doing some really nasty stuff — in my view. You’re a public figure too.”

Here’s the clip of Jones going after Darcy and it’s as uncomfortable as it sounds:

As I said yesterday, I don’t have any use for Alex Jones. I’m not interested in defending him or his media empire. I do worry about the precedent being set here with the social media sites deciding as a group that someone should be silenced, partly in response to pressure from the left. That pressure to silence people the left disagrees with is not going to stop here. The far left’s desire for a safe space is never satisfied. And while this isn’t technically censorship (because Twitter is a private company), it does seem like a slippery slope in an area Jack Dorsey himself called a “digital public square” several times yesterday.

Given that viewpoint, should Twitter be banning Jones? I think the best take on this is the one Stephen Miller wrote for the NY Post. This isn’t just a debate about Alex Jones, it’s about who gets to decide which voices matter.

Dorsey’s critics in media believe we still live in a media landscape where they are the purveyors of information and we, the other non-credentialed users of Twitter, are simply there to soak up and receive their information as they give it to us. That’s not what social media is.

On Twitter, we’re all journalists. We don’t need ESPN for sports scores anymore and we don’t need the likes of Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw filtering information through their own personal worldview and dishing it out to us at a time that they see fit. Gone are the days when reporters and anchors can frame a story the way they see fit without any real public criticism or calling out their all-too-obvious biases. Now that criticism is on display for anyone to see or participate in. The “reader’s letters” is talking back, and that’s what they despise most about it…

The hard truth is, Dorsey’s right: Twitter is whatever a user wants it to be. If a user wants to engage in abuse and drama on Twitter, they will find plenty of it. If they want to block it all out, they can do so. If they want to cocoon themselves inside an ideological bubble where their only source of information is MSNBC or Infowars, they’re free to do that as well.

The desire to drive people off the site (when individuals could simply hit the block button) seems like a bad impulse even if this is only the digital public square and not the actual public square.

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David Strom 4:31 PM on November 25, 2022