Twitter suspends Alex Jones for one week

Alex Jones Image copyright EPA
Image caption Alex Jones will not be able to post new messages or comment on others' posts for a week

Twitter is blocking the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from posting to its platform for a week.

The InfoWars broadcaster's past tweets will, however, remain viewable to others while his account is locked in a "read-only" mode.

The social network has not confirmed what prompted the action.

But the New York Times reported Mr Jones had tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his followers to ready their "battle rifles".

The BBC understands that Twitter judged this to be a violation of its rules against abusive behaviour.

The restriction was initially only effective against the @RealAlexJones account, which has 890,000 followers.

Mr Jones subsequently posted a video in which he discusses the move to a separate @Infowars feed - with about 431,000 followers - which he described as being a "sub-account".

Twitter then locked that account in read-only mode too.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey told NBC that Mr Jones had been put on a "timeout".

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt suggested to Mr Dorsey that the seven-day suspension was too lenient a punishment.

Mr Dorsey said: "Well, I feel, you know, any suspension, whether it be a permanent one or a temporary one, makes someone think about their actions and their behaviours."

The anchorman asked Mr Dorsey if he really believed Mr Jones would tone down the rhetoric after a one-week suspension.

The Twitter boss said he did not know, but that was the company policy.

Conspiracy theories

Mr Jones has previously been widely criticised for repeating claims that the 9/11 attacks in New York were staged by the US government.

He has also claimed that many of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre were actors. The parents of two children shot in that attack are suing him for defamation, saying he had made "false, cruel, and dangerous assertions".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Twitter sent this message to Mr Jones complaining of abusive behaviour

Apple's iTunes, Facebook and YouTube removed podcasts and other content by Mr Jones and InfoWars from their services last week.

Other tech firms have since taken similar action, including:

  • the video site Vimeo
  • the social networks LinkedIn and Pinterest
  • the photo site Flickr
  • the audio-streaming services Spotify, Stitcher and TuneIn
  • the online marketing tool MailChimp

However, Twitter had resisted imposing a similar ban.

It said Mr Jones' accounts had not breached its rules, although CNN later highlighted past tweets that appeared to contradict this.

The social network did, however, promise to take action if there were ever any fresh infractions.

According to the terms of the suspension, Mr Jones will still be able to use his account to view and search for other people's content. He can also send direct messages. But he will not be able to tweet, like, comment or retweet others' material.

Techcrunch reported that he had also been required to delete the link to his earlier Periscope video session, which itself is no longer online.

Among the last messages Mr Jones posted before the ban came into effect was a claim that InfoWars' main website had been forced offline by a cyber-attack.

Although he now faces many restrictions to his online activity, there are several outlets that have not blocked his content.

They include the social networks Google+, Gab and Tumblr. In addition, Google's Play store and Apple's iOS equivalent continue to host the InfoWars app.

More on this story