Infowars and the reluctance to curate

BuzzFeed has an article about Apple removing Infowars from the Apple podcast directory:

Apple’s decision to remove all episodes of Jones' popular show — rather than just specific offending episodes — is one of the largest enforcement actions intended to curb conspiratorial news content by a technology company to date. Apple did not host Jones' shows, but it offered an index that allowed anyone with an iPhone to find and subscribe to them.

This is the way the web is supposed to work. Alex Jones can continue to host his podcast and his fans can subscribe manually. But Apple has no obligation to index it in their podcast directory and make it easy for people to find it.

More from the New York Times today:

Some tech companies, including Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, had appeared reluctant to remove Mr. Jones’s pages entirely and were instead taking action against specific videos.

Google has now decided to terminate his YouTube channel. And:

Tech companies have long been wary of censoring speech, but an increasing amount of hate speech and misinformation — and louder protests from critics — have forced them to take action. Moves by the tech companies against Infowars and its peers have spurred a debate over free speech.

Facebook and YouTube are conflicted about how to handle this because their model is wrong. Unlike podcasts and blogs, which can live at a custom domain and move between hosting companies, videos on Facebook and YouTube are served directly on those platforms. If the videos are blocked, especially by YouTube which controls nearly all video on the web, there’s no obvious migration path away.

We’ve also seen this hesitation to curate with Twitter. My post about pulling the weeds covers the same issue.

Over the last dozen years we have let massive centralized social networks gain far too much power. We started paying the price with the 2016 election and the fallout continues today. The solution is clear: post to your own site, encourage other people to get their own domain name, and support smaller social networks like that are empowered by design to curate.

Manton Reece @manton