Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed a bit more of the behind-the-scenes decision-making that resulted in conspiracy theorist and alt-right figure Alex Jones’ widespread tech platform ban last month in an interview on HBO’s Vice News Tonight this evening. Notably, Cook said that the decision to remove podcasts operated by Jones and his Infowars network from the official Podcasts iOS app, and later to remove the main Infowars app from the App Store, was not part of a coordinated attempt by multiple Silicon Valley companies to de-platform Jones and deny him a voice.
“We don’t take a political stand. We’re not leaning one way or the other. You can tell that from the stuff on the App Store and in podcasts, etc. You’ll see everything from very conservative to very liberal. And that’s the way I think it should be,” Cook said. On the topic of a potential coordinated attempt, Cook said, “I’ve never even had a conversation about [Alex Jones] with any other tech companies. We make our decisions independently and I think that’s important. Honestly. I’ve had no conversation. And to my knowledge, no one at Apple has.”
Apple, alongside Facebook, was among the first tech companies to take definitive action against Jones by banning a number of his podcasts. Through Infowars and its many affiliated podcasts, websites, and social media channels, Jones has regularly peddled false information and conspiracy theories about political figures and, most notably, the parents of the Sandy Hook shooting victims. Jones is now being sued for defamation by a number of the victims’ parents.
Apple cited hate speech violations for why it removed Jones’ podcasts and later the Infowars app. Many technology companies and platform operators — including Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, and PayPal — followed suit, leading members of the alt-right and other conservative figures to suggest it was part of a coordinated attempt to silence Jones and punish him for his politics. In this most recent interview, it seems like Cook wants to put that theory to rest.