New York attorney general Letitia James has ordered radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to stop claiming that InfoWars’ products can protect against the novel coronavirus. In a statement, the attorney general said that Jones marketed toothpaste, dietary supplements, and creams as being able to prevent or cure the virus. “[Alex Jones’] latest mistruths are incredibly dangerous and pose a serious threat to the public health of New Yorkers and individuals across the nation,” the attorney general said.
In particular, Jones claimed that his Superblue Toothpaste “kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range” despite there currently being no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, HuffPost previously reported. When viewing the toothpaste’s product page, there is now a notice which says “this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease” and adds that anyone who’s currently taking medication should consult their physician before using it. The Verge has not been able to verify when this message was added.
“As the coronavirus continues to pose serious risks to public health, Alex Jones has spewed outright lies and has profited off of New Yorkers’ anxieties,” the attorney general said in a statement, “If these unlawful violations do not cease immediately, my office will not hesitate to take legal action and hold Mr. Jones accountable for the harm he’s caused.”
The action taken against Alex Jones is part of a broader push against companies trying to use COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to sell their products or boost profits. The New York Attorney General has already sent cease and desist orders to two other companies that claim their colloidal silver products can treat the coronavirus, and it’s ordered the Jim Bakker show to stop marketing one of them.
Meanwhile, online platforms are also cracking down. Facebook has banned ads that “guarantee a cure or prevention” for the virus, or which otherwise try to create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply. Others have been struggling to prevent price gouging on necessary items like face masks and hand sanitizers. Amazon has begun restricting which sellers on its Marketplace platform can sell them, while eBay has banned their sale entirely.