Company says that it made the decision to pull channel after hearing from “concerned parties”
Roku has reversed its decision to carry Alex Jones’ InfoWars channel, citing “concerned parties” that the company has heard from.
Roku’s decision to pull the channel came Tuesday, a day after the channel went live.
“After the InfoWars channel became available, we heard from concerned parties and have determined that the channel should be removed from our platform,” Roku tweeted Tuesday evening. “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
Jones’ InfoWars channel was made available on Roku several months after the digital shock jock was dropped by virtually every major tech platform.
The channel, shortly after going live on Roku on Monday, quickly grabbed the attention of Jones’ detractors, with many threatening to drop Roku altogether if it keeps the notorious conspiracy theorist on its service.
Why are you airing Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories? Most platforms have dropped him and he and his fans harass Sandy Hook parents
— JP (@James_Petitious) January 15, 2019
Hey @Roku @RokuPlayer Why don’t you google Alex Jones & Sandy Hook… go ahead, I’ll wait… see it? Is this what you want to promote on your service? This is not free speech, this is hate speech and propaganda, designed for self aggrandizement and division #Shame
— Spike Fx (@spikeselby) January 15, 2019
@Roku @RokuSupport I’ve been a user for many years and have owned several generations of Rokus, but I’m gonna switch to Amazon Fire now that you’ve given Alex Jones a platform to continue attacking the victims of mass gun violence.
— Nate Igor Smith (@drivenbyboredom) January 15, 2019
Roku, in a statement to TheWrap, said the platform “allows our customers to choose from thousands of entertainment, news and special interest channels, representing a wide range of topics and viewpoints.”
“Customers choose and control which channels they download or watch, and parents can set a pin to prevent channels from being downloaded,” the statement continued. “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.”
Roku added it is not “promoting or being paid to distribute” InfoWars content.
Jones is known for pushing several wild and unsupported claims, including a warning last summer that Democrats were plotting to start a second Civil War on the Fourth of July. Perhaps most infamously, Jones called the Sandy Hook school shooting a “hoax” — a claim he is now being sued for by several of the victims’ families.
Attorney Josh Koskoff, who is representing several Sandy Hook families against Jones, told TheWrap Roku adding InfoWars is an “insult to the memory of the 26 children and educators killed at Sandy Hook.”
Jones’ appearance on Roku stands out, considering he was exiled by several Silicon Valley stalwarts last year. Facebook and Google-owned YouTube pulled his InfoWars pages down in August. Spotify removed his podcast at the same time. Twitter followed suit in September, banning Jones for violating its policy against “abusive behavior,” after he badgered CNN reporter Oliver Darcy. The InfoWars app was also kicked off Apple’s App Store that same month.
In a statement to TheWrap in August, Jones accused China and George Soros of being behind the effort to silence him.
“China pulls the strings of big tech now. Choose a side. Soros is proud of you,” Jones said via text, which also included a Chinese flag emoji.
Despite Jones’ claims he’d thrive following his banishment, InfoWars was hit hard, with traffic plummeting to the site in the weeks after his removal.
Jones’ erasure from every major tech platform was championed by many of his critics, who blasted him for spreading hateful rhetoric and misinformation. Others argued that censoring Jones, no matter how absurd his claims, set a bad precedent. “It’s a really big deal to censor content or kick someone off your platform,” Geoffrey King, professor of media studies at UC Berkeley, told TheWrap in August. “It’s a decision they have the power to make, but it’s not one they should be undertaking lightly, to say the least.”