Alex Jones video that spurred Twitter suspension remained live on Periscope

But Twitter owns Periscope, so...

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
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Joan E. Solsman
3 min read

The video that spurred Twitter to suspend Alex Jones remained live and viewable for almost a day on Periscope, the livestreaming app owned by... Twitter. 

On Tuesday, Twitter cut off Jones from key functions of his personal account for a week, after the founder and star of conspiracy site Infowars violated Twitter policy by linking to a snippet of video that encouraged viewers to "have their battle rifles" ready.

But the clip originated from a livestream on the Infowars Periscope account, and that stream was still available to watch on Twitter's Periscope app Wednesday morning. Infowars' ability to livestream on Periscope apparently wasn't initially affected either; the account, which has 33,000 followers, was livestreaming Wednesday when this article, now updated, was first published.

After being contacted by CNET, Twitter suspended Infowars' Periscope account. Around the same time, it also suspended the main Infowars' Twitter account for sharing a video that violated terms of service. A Twitter spokeswoman said both actions were taken because Infowars shared the same video Jones had. 

The discrepancy highlights the seemingly arbitrary and slapdash way that tech giants enforce their content policies. Silicon Valley behemoths like Facebook, YouTube and  Apple  have been grappling with the editorial responsibilities that come with the power of their platforms. Services like Twitter and Facebook have become some of the world's most influential distributors of news and information, but the companies that run them have faced intense criticism for inconsistent, opaque enforcement and for failing to anticipate negative real-world repercussions. 

Jones' own Periscope account -- @realalexjones -- had been suspended already as part of a "period of locked functionality," according to a Twitter representative, presumably part of his seven-day Twitter suspension because the two accounts are linked. 

But the Periscope account  that originally livestreamed the "battle rifles" video didn't belong to Jones. It was Infowars' Periscope account -- @Infowars_Live -- that originally broadcast the livestream and continued to offer an on-demand version of the video even after Twitter took action against Jones himself. 

The Periscope video is titled "Alex Jones: 'I am upset with Trump for his inaction on the deplatforming of conservatives from the web.'" To see it, you had to have been a subscriber to the channel -- which anyone could become by searching for Infowars and following it -- or to have had the video shared directly with you by someone who subscribes. It could also be shared to social networks including Twitter and Facebook.

The reference to "battle rifles" occurs at about the 16:40 mark in the stream. The rifles reference was prefaced in Jones' video by statements like "mainstream media is the enemy" and "now it's time to act on the enemy" and followed by references to antifa, a term for certain anti-fascist activists. 

Jones has been widely criticized for promoting untrue, virulent hypotheses about tragic events like the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York that killed nearly 3,000 people and the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 26 students and staff.

First published Aug. 15, 9:26 a.m. PT
Updates, 10:39 a.m.:
Adds Twitter response and context; 11:43 a.m.: Adds news of Twitter suspending Infowars' Periscope and Twitter accounts, and adjusts story throughout to reflect those developments. 

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