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Roku backtracks, says it’s pulling Infowars from its platform

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UPDATE: Jan. 15, 2019, 5:24 p.m. PST Roku announced on Twitter that it would be pulling the Infowars channel from its platform. “Deletion from the channel store and platform has begun and will be completed shortly,” Roku’s tweet read.

Months after being banned from some of the largest internet platforms, Alex Jones still has one major outlet he can depend on: Roku.

Roku users are up in arms an official InfoWars channel on the Roku Channel Store this week. The revelation of an official InfoWars Roku Channel comes just days after Alex Jones was once again thrust into the spotlight, this time concerning the Sandy Hook shooting families’ the conspiracy theorist.

In a statement to Mashable, Roku says that to their knowledge “InfoWars is not currently in violation of these content policies.” The company also pointed out that they do not promote the channel or have a commercial relationship with InfoWars.

A screengrab of the InfoWars Channel in the Roku Channel Store posted 5 months ago on Reddit.

A screengrab of the InfoWars Channel in the Roku Channel Store posted 5 months ago on Reddit.

While the discovery of the channel may be new among many Roku users, an InfoWars.com page providing Alex Jones’ fans with instructions on how to activate its Roku app has existed since at least 2014, according to . A of the InfoWars channel from a Roku smart TV says the app’s release date was in August 2014.

“Hey @Roku what’s with you adding Infowars to your platform?,” asked Twitter user @DanielMadison78 who first noticed the Alex Jones-run network on Roku’s official store on Monday. Roku replied in a now-deleted tweet that linked to the on the streaming media company’s website.

Sleeping Giants, an activist collective that has found success in pressuring companies to remove advertising from media groups such as Breitbart and Fox News, quickly boosted the discovery, leading to an uproar among Roku users on Twitter. 

With the decision to keep the InfoWars channel in its store, Roku stands out as one of the few online media companies that provide a platform for Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist turned high-profile right wing commentator after hosting then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential elections. 

After intense pressure from activists, Alex Jones and his InfoWars-related accounts were banned from Apple’s store, , , , and even in August 2018. Twitter and banned Jones from its platform the following month as well. Apple the InfoWars application from its App Store in September.

At the time of the InfoWars podcast removal, an Apple spokesperson said of the removal that “Apple does not tolerate hate speech. When the company delete the InfoWars app, it said that its policies prohibit content that it deems “offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust or in exceptionally poor taste.”

When Facebook deleted four pages belonging to Jones, effectively banning him and his website from the platform, a spokesperson stated that it did so because the content was “glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

The set-top streaming media box maker reported earlier this year that it had ended 2018 with Roku users. That number is up from the it reported earlier that year.

Roku’s full statement to Mashable defending its decision to allow the InfoWars channel on its channel store is below:

Our streaming platform allows our customers to choose from thousands of entertainment, news and special interest channels, representing a wide range of topics and viewpoints. Customers choose and control which channels they download or watch, and parents can set a pin to prevent channels from being downloaded.  While the vast majority of all streaming on our platform is mainstream entertainment, voices on all sides of an issue or cause are free to operate a channel.  We do not curate or censor based on viewpoint. 

We are not promoting or being paid to distribute InfoWars. We do not have a commercial relationship with the InfoWars.

While open to many voices, we have policies that prohibit the publication of content that is unlawful, incites illegal activities or violates third-party rights, among other things.  If we determine a channel violates these policies, it will be removed. To our knowledge, InfoWars is not currently in violation of these content policies. 

Mashable has also reached out to InfoWars for comment, and we will update if we hear back.

UPDATE: Jan. 15, 2019, 3:35 p.m. EST Josh Koskoff, the attorney from Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder representing Sandy Hook families suing Jones for his claims that the school shooting was a hoax, provided the following statement to Mashable:

“Roku’s shocking decision to carry Infowars and provide a platform for Alex Jones is an insult to the memory of the 26 children and educators killed at Sandy Hook. Worse, it interferes with families’ efforts to prevent people like Jones from profiting off innocent victims whose lives have been turned upside down by unspeakable loss. We call on Roku to realize this and immediately pull the program. Until then, the families will be switching to alternate streaming providers that know the difference between authentic – if provocative – opinions and a lying opportunist seeking to make money by any means possible. There is no amount of anticipated revenue that could possibly justify Roku’s calculated decision.”

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