Zuckerberg intervened to water down action against Alex Jones: Report
According to a report, Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened to change Facebook policies to allow content that praised or supported conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had personally intervened to water down punitive action against Infowars founder Alex Jones, reports Buzzfeed.
Jones is known for spreading controversial conspiracy theories through his website InfoWars. In the past, he has faced restrictions from social networking platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.
The heart of the matter
In 2019, Jones had created a stir over his claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a "giant hoax". Facebook was preparing to take action against the conspiracy theorists after its experts discovered that Jones had also regularly spread hate against various groups. His actions made him eligible for removal from the social networking platform under Facebook’s policies for “dangerous individuals and organisations.” Under these policies, Facebook would have to take down any content that praised or supported Jones.
According to the report, Zuckerberg then intervened to change the policies to allow content that praised and supported Jones. Facebook did impose a permanent ban on Jones. The loophole allowed Jones’ followers to spread his conspiracy theories on the social networking platform.
The report says that Zuckerberg did not consider Jones to be a hate figure. "Mark personally didn’t like the punishment, so he changed the rules,” a former policy employee told BuzzFeed News.
“That was the first time I experienced having to create a new category of policy to fit what Zuckerberg wanted. It's somewhat demoralizing when we have established a policy and it’s gone through rigorous cycles…” another former policy employee told the publication.
On the Jones decision, a Facebook spokesperson said that Zuckerberg had called for a more “nuanced policy” and enforcement strategy.
According to the report, Zuckerberg’s call for the nuanced policy affected Facebook’s ability to quickly act against militant organisations such as the Oath Keepers from the platform. Such organisations were allegedly involved in the Capitol Hill violence on January 6.