Roku gave InfoWars its own channel, but quickly deleted it after much public outcry. Roku wrote in a tweet after it had added the channel on January 15th, “we heard from concerned parties and have determined that the channel should be removed from our platform. Deletion from the channel store and platform has begun and will be completed shortly.”
After the InfoWars channel became available, we heard from concerned parties and have determined that the channel should be removed from our platform. Deletion from the channel store and platform has begun and will be completed shortly.
— Roku (@Roku) January 16, 2019
But earlier in the day, Roku attempted to defend its decision in a statement that read: “While the vast majority of all streaming on our platform is mainstream entertainment, voices on all sides of an issue or cause are free to operate a channel. We do not curate or censor based on viewpoint. We are not promoting or being paid to distribute InfoWars. We do not have a commercial relationship with the InfoWars.”
Roku has said that it had policies to prevent content that is “unlawful, incited illegal activities, or violates third-party rights,” but was adamant that InfoWars did not break any of its policies.
The streaming platform failed to clarify who the concerned parties were who called for them to drop the show, but it’s clear that the Twitter account Sleeping Giants played some role by asking users to call out Roku’s move.
Roku’s decision to add InfoWars in the first place came as a surprise since practically every major tech platform, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Spotify, Periscope, Stitcher, Pinterest, iTunes, and LinkedIn, has banished it.
These companies began to remove it about 6 months ago after stating that InfoWars broke their terms of service or violated their content policies. Roku, on the other hand, insisted that they are “a neutral platform.”
Roku’s userbase is rightly upset because the host of InfoWars, Alex Jones, is a known conspiracy theorist who specializes in spreading false claims. Jones who is the publisher, director, and owner of InfoWars, was also accused of discrimination and sexually harassing employees last year in February.
Jones has created fake news and harmful conspiracies regarding 9/11 and the Sandy Hook shootings for years. The InfoWars show host is currently facing a defamation lawsuit by the families of Sandy Hook victims. Jones claimed that Sandy Hook shootings never took place and the massacre was faked using paid, “crisis actors.”
Family members of the victims have received death threats because of the lies Jones spread about them. This led to many of the victims’ family members having to change their address. The plaintiffs in the case include an FBI agent and relatives of five children and three adults who were killed in the massacre.
The plaintiffs claimed that Jones made a profit out of the misery of others and that his platform profited from spreading harmful lies. The judge in the case, Barbara Bellis of the Connecticut Superior Court, ruled that Mr. Jones would have to submit letters, memos, emails and text messages that contain the business plan or marketing strategies of InfoWars to the court.
This was a small victory for the family members who continue their battle after six years since the shootings took place.
In the end, Roku made the right call. InfoWars would only have harmed Roku’s reputation. Keeping politics aside, Alex Jones is nothing but a modern snake oil salesman, who earns money from lies and hoaxes that harm innocent people.
It is great to see the public raising its voice against such worthless content.