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Facebook suspends profile of Infowars founder, says ban is 'close'

The move comes after YouTube also removed four videos posted by the conspiracy theorist and far-right radio host.
Image: FILE PHOTO: Alex Jones from speaks during a rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland
Alex Jones from speaks during a rally in support of then presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 18, 2016.Lucas Jackson / Reuters file

Facebook is close to removing the pages of Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist and founder of the far-right media platform Infowars.

Facebook issued a 30-day suspension to Jones' profile on Thursday night after removing four videos on pages he runs on the social network. The content of the videos was not immediately clear, but the company said all four violated its community standards.

A Facebook spokesperson also said that pages run by Jones are nearing the limit on violations of the company's community standards, which are rules for what is and is not allowed to be posted to Facebook.

If the pages do reach that limit, they will be removed from the network. Jones and Infowars have a combined total of more than 2.5 million followers on Facebook.

"Our Community Standards make it clear that we prohibit content that encourages physical harm [bullying], or attacks someone based on their religious affiliation or gender identity [hate speech]," a company spokesperson said in an email.

"We reviewed the content against our Community Standards and determined that it violates. All four videos have been removed from Facebook."

During the suspension, Jones will be unable to post from his profile. The suspension does not stop other page administrators from posting to his personal page or the page of Infowars. Both pages published new posts on Friday morning, with Jones appearing on a livestream on the Infowars page.

Facebook has said it would limit the reach of pages that consistently push fake news and misinformation, but it has not called out Infowars by name despite calls for it to do so. Thursday's suspension represents the harshest action taken by Facebook so far.

Facebook and other social media companies have been caught in the middle of a fierce debate about how they handle misinformation, outright falsehoods, and conspiracy theories on their platforms. Facebook in particular has been accused by conservatives of having a liberal bias, while many members of the media have said the social network is not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation from far-right media outlets.

Infowars has emerged as a particular flashpoint. Earlier this week, YouTube removed four videos posted by Jones and issued a warning that more violations could result in a ban from the video platform. It was not clear if YouTube and Facebook removed the same videos.

Jones is perhaps best known for falsely claiming the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was staged by actors. Those claims have resulted in harassment directed at Sandy Hook families and supporters. Families of Sandy Hook victims have filed lawsuits against Jones for defamation.

Infowars did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Jason Abbruzzese contributed reporting.