Ethan Klein -- one half of a husband-and-wife comedy duo -- tweeted on Friday that YouTube had unexpectedly shut down their livestream broadcast on the social media provider. “Wow. Team YouTube just shut down our h3 podcast live stream and gave us a strike for talking about Alex Jones? What…” He followed up about an hour later, noting that their h3 podcast livestream privileges had been “revoked.” He noted that they will continue filming off line and upload their programming later. Google is the parent company of YouTube.
h3h3Productions (often shortened to h3h3 or simply h3) is an Israeli-American comedy YouTube channel produced by Hila and Ethan Klein. The provide content that consists mostly of videos of sketch comedy in which their ridicule internet culture. In addition, they operate a secondary video blog (vlog) channel called H3 Podcast, which covers a number of controversial topics. The podcast primarily features their interviews with celebrities and YouTubers. They also produce a “Top Of The Week" segment where they comment on current events involving the internet and the world.
Free speech advocates have roundly criticized YouTube, Facebook, Apple, and Spotify their apparently coordinated banning of the programming produced by controversialist and founder of InfoWars, Alex Jones. In the New York Times, reporter Kevin Roose revealed in “Facebook banned InfoWars. Now what?” that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made the decision late on Sunday to pull the plug on Jones. Zuckerberg, according to Roose, was “personally engaged” and “discussed Infowars at length with other executives.” When Zuckerberg saw that Apple had banned Jones and InfoWars, he decided to remove the Infowars page entirely, rather than just giving the page a strike. “After seeing the news, Mr. Zuckerberg sent a note to his team confirming his own decision: the strikes against Infowars and Mr. Jones would count individually, and the pages would come down.,” Roose wrote. Apple CEO Tim Cook also personally made the decision to ban the Infowars podcast.
Jones tweeted today, “Should billionaires & huge corporations get to decide what we can say and read?” Jones is a strong supporter of President Trump.
Even while Apple removed four out of five of Jones podcasts from its Apple Store on Sunday, on Wednesday the company confirmed that it was keeping Jones' InfoWars app available at its store for download. However, Jones' material on other Apple digital platforms such as iTunes and Podcasts has been removed. According to an Apple spokesperson, Jones' Infowars app has not violated company guidelines. In a statement to BuzzFeed, Apple said that even though Jones' podcasts were in violation of iTunes policy regarding hate speech, the company affirmed "Infowars Official" app does not infringe on App Store review rules. "We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and follow our clear guidelines, ensuring the App Store is a safe marketplace for all," Apple said. "We continue to monitor apps for violations of our guidelines and if we find content that violates our guidelines and is harmful to users we will remove those apps from the store as we have done previously."