Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been banned across social media, but this week he still found a megaphone.
Ye — the megastar formerly known as Kanye West — joined Jones’ far-right conspiracy theory outlet Thursday for an interview in which he announced his “love” for Adolf Hitler and Nazis. The unbridled antisemitism immediately captured the attention of the internet. While the content was overwhelmingly denounced, the interview — and the antisemitism expressed in it — still reached millions of people, thanks to reposted clips of the interview on mainstream social media platforms.
Now with clips of the interview being uploaded to YouTube, Google told NBC News in a statement that it is working to remove reuploads if the antisemitism in the interview isn’t denounced in the video via added commentary. Other platforms like Twitter have yet to explicitly address that type of spread.
Jones is perhaps best known for falsely claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting didn’t happen. Jones and Infowars had already been banned from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Apple, YouTube, Spotify, Google Play, Vimeo, Pinterest, Mailchimp and LinkedIn.
Jones now hosts his content on his own video platform called Banned, where broadcasts typically get anywhere from about 10,000 views to slightly more than 1 million views.
But Ye’s interview had more than 3.1 million views as of publication. It was already Jones’ most-viewed video on his platform.
On other platforms, clips of the interview got millions more.
“Social media platforms reward the most contentious content, because people who oppose it engage with it to express their disgust, their anger, to say it’s wrong, and in doing so, platforms elevate that and give it an algorithmic boost,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said.
The backlash to Ye’s comments was swift and unprecedented, with major conservative figures who had aligned with Ye days or even hours before the interview moving to denounce him.
Late Thursday night, Ye tweeted screenshots of text messages purportedly between him and Elon Musk that showed Musk saying, “Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love,” immediately attracting attention to Ye’s account and his interview that day.
Twitter suspended Ye later that night after Ye tweeted an image that contained a swastika.
Despite the suspension, some reposts of the interview to Twitter have received more than 3 million views.
Anti-hate groups and corporate advertisers have for years urged social media platforms to be vigilant about stopping the spread of online hate, arguing that sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube weren’t doing enough to enforce their own rules.
“Someone saying something is disgusting and then retweeting the entire video, that does nothing besides express disgust, but it actually then amplifies it to a lot of people,” Ahmed said.
“There is an effect where it draws people back to the Infowars platform, because they want to know where it’s coming from. It starts to normalize the notion that this sort of content is out there,” Ahmed said.
Some YouTube users were uploading full copies of the interview Friday, according to an NBC News search of the platform. And while full, unedited copies had only a few hundred views, right-wing commentators posted long clips from the interview mixing Ye’s antisemitic comments with their own reaction. One of those videos from a right-wing commentator had 307,000 views, giving Ye’s comments such as “I love Hitler” a large audience with little scrutiny.
“This is one of the biggest problems in responding to online hate,” said Bond Benton, an associate professor of communication at Montclair State University. “There is a certain segment of people who will see it and say, ‘My hateful views have now been normalized.’ And they will be that much more comfortable expressing them individually and acting on them.”
The top search hits for Ye-related terms on YouTube were mostly videos from established news organizations giving context to the videos, but some commentators said they were torn about how much to discuss it.
“The easy thing to do is to ignore it and not to talk about it, but I’ve got to talk about it because this is crazy,” said Greg Foreman, a conservative YouTuber in a 15-minute video with more than 80,000 views. He showed clips of Ye praising Hitler, and Foreman speculated that his channel might get a “strike” from YouTube as a result.
“The Alex Jones Channel was terminated from YouTube in 2018, and in accordance with our circumvention policies, we’re removing third-party reuploads of his recent interview featuring Kanye West,” Jack Malon, a YouTube spokesperson, said in an email.
“We may allow some of this content to remain on the platform, but only in cases where there is condemnation of the hateful views that would otherwise violate our Community Guidelines,” he said.
On Facebook, some users uploaded short clips from the interview, often within the context of a news program but not always, according to an NBC News search. But the clips without context appeared to have very few views. One seven-minute video in which Ye makes antisemitic comments had only 48 views.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, said it was following its established policy on “dangerous individuals and organizations.” Under that policy, Meta says it will “remove content that praises, substantively supports or represents ideologies that promote hate, such as nazism and white supremacy.”
The top post on Reddit on Thursday was a repost from the interview. Two other posts in the top 20 Reddit posts that day were also reposts, and both videos contained the Infowars logo. The videos contained the specific segments of the interview when Ye praised Hitler and Nazis, portraying them in a shocking and negative light. Responding to NBC News, Reddit pointed to its content policies, which include banning content and communities that attack marginalized and vulnerable people and groups.
The largest social media platform where Ye still has a presence appears to be TikTok. His verified account there has 1.9 million followers, though as of Friday afternoon, his most recent TikTok video was from Oct. 13.
One short clip of Ye’s interview without context had 82,700 views, and although searches on TikTok for Hitler’s name returned zero results, the person who posted the clip had used a slight variation of the name. The clip had more than 300 comments, including some from people who sided with Ye.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment and for additional information on its enforcement.
“There is a devastating consequence to the normalization of antisemitism,” Ahmed said. “No one needs to be reminded of what that can lead to.”
U.S. is behind on supply chain independence from China
The U.S. has some rapid catching up to do if it is to secure the reliability of its supply chain and its independence from competitors like China, a top White House advisor admitted this week.
“Look, this is a major concern for the U.S. and I think for the rest of the world. As we are going into a cleaner, greener, an entirely new energy system, we have to make sure we have a diversified supply chain,” Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Monday.
“We can’t have a supply chain that is concentrated in any country, doesn’t matter which country that is,” he said. “We have to make sure from the mining and refining process to the building of the batteries and wind turbines that we have a diversified system that we can be well supplied for. That is the only way this will work from an economy perspective.”
Asked if the U.S. was behind in this endeavor, Hochstein, who also served in the Obama administration as chief energy envoy, replied: “Absolutely we’re behind.” But, he added, “It doesn’t mean that we’re out.”
Workers transport soil containing rare earth elements for export at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China October 31, 2010.
Stringer | Reuters
China controls roughly 60% of the world’s production of rare earth minerals and materials, according to a recent report by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Those resources include lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, manganese and other rare earth elements crucial for making things like electric vehicles, batteries, computers and household goods.
They’re also essential for renewable technology like solar panels and wind turbines, which are central in the U.S.’s attempt at an energy transition away from fossil fuels. As just one example, China refines 95% of the world’s manganese — a chemical element used in batteries and steel manufacturing — despite mining less than 10% of its global supply.
For the U.S., whose relations with China can currently be described as tense at best, this poses several security risks, were China to decide to weaponize that market dominance at any point. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have also highlighted the fragility of the global supply chain.
The White House, in a Feb. 2022 fact sheet, wrote that “The U.S. is increasingly dependent on foreign sources for many of the processed versions of these minerals. Globally, China controls most of the market for processing and refining for cobalt, lithium, rare earths and other critical minerals.”
“We have to recognize that we have not invested, and that’s what the United States is trying to do now, is not only say the same old talk of we want to have partnerships,” Hochstein said. “We’re going to come to this table together with our G7 allies, we’re going to pool our resources, we’re going to make sure that the money is there.”
This includes dedicated financial and business incentives, Hochstein said. The Biden administration’s mammoth 2022 Inflation Reduction Act aims to invest heavily in the supply of and access to critical minerals in allied countries, and offers approximately $369 billion in funding and tax credits to boost renewable energy technology and critical mineral production.
“We’re giving the incentives, through the IRA, to tell companies ‘look, if you make sure you’re mining in the U.S. or in other countries and bring it to the U.S. for refining, processing and battery manufacturing, there’s going to be the kind of financial incentives there’,” he said.
Despite his warnings about supply chain risk, Hochstein rejected the idea that the U.S. was being held hostage to China.
“I don’t want to talk about being held hostage, at the end of the day China is doing what they think is right for them,” he said. “They’re trying to build an economic energy in the clean energy space and we all need to do the same.”
“We have to learn from what we went through in the oil and gas energy space, as we transition to a new energy market that relies still on natural resources,” he added.
“They may not be oil and gas, but they’re still natural resources — they’re not abundant everywhere in the world — so we have to make sure from the U.S. perspective that we have a supply chain for the United States, and that’s what the legislation that we passed in the United States is trying to do.”
Boeing to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs in finance and HR, report says
Boeing expects to slash about 2,000 white-collar jobs this year in finance and human resources through a combination of attrition and layoffs, the planemaker confirmed to Seattle Times newspaper on Monday.
Last month, the Virginia-based company announced it would hire 10,000 workers in 2023, but some support positions would be cut.
Back then Boeing acknowledged it will “lower staffing within some support functions” – a move meant to enable it to better align resources to support current products and technology development.
“Over time, some of our corporate functions have grown quite large. And with that growth tends to come bureaucracy or disparate systems that are inefficient,” the newspaper quoted Mike Friedman, a senior director of communications at Boeing as saying. “So we’re streamlining.”
Boeing did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Last year, Boeing said it plans to cut about 150 finance jobs in the United States to simplify its corporate structure and focus more resources into manufacturing and product development.
Trump appeals sanctions for ‘frivolous’ suit against Hillary Clinton
presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton attend campaign rallies in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, October 10, 2016 and Manchester, New Hampshire U.S., October 24, 2016 in a combination of file photos.
Mike Segar | Carlos Barria | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump and one of his lawyers said Monday they are appealing nearly $1 million in sanctions imposed on them for what a federal judge called their “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and more than two dozen other defendants.
The court filing about the appeal came days after a lawyer for Trump and his attorney Alina Habba told the judge in the case they were willing to put up a bond of $1,031,788 to cover the costs of the sanctions while the federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit considered the matter.
In imposing those sanctions Jan. 19, Judge John Middlebrooks said in an order, “We are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”
Trump’s suit, which sought $70 million in damages, accused Clinton, former FBI officials, the Democratic National Committee and others of conspiring to create a “false narrative” that Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign against Clinton were colluding with Russia to try to win the election that year.
Middlebrooks in September dismissed the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and barred Trump from refiling the complaint.
He later ordered Trump and Habba to pay more than $937,000 in sanctions.
Middlebrooks in his sanctions order called Trump “a mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process,” and a “prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries.”
A day after Middlebrooks issued that order, Trump voluntarily dropped another lawsuit he had pending before the same judge against New York Attorney General Letitia James. That suit was related to James’ pending $250 million fraud lawsuit against Trump and his company in Manhattan state court.
Jared Roberts, the lawyer for Trump and Habba, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about the appeal.
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