Alex Jones is running out of app marketplaces. On Friday, Google banned Infowars from the Play Store for spouting coronavirus misinformation, according to Wired. The hotbed for right-wing conspiracy theories was booted from Apple’s App Store in 2018, but it took some COVID-19 snake oil for Google to catch up.
Keeping up with the Jones’s blocks — Google’s YouTube actually kicked off a wave of suspensions and eventual bans of Jones’s media trash heap in 2018. In September of 2018, Apple removed his podcasts and apps from iTunes and the App Store, and Twitter banned him from the platform. Apple would eventually stop supporting RSS and ATOM feeds in its News app, a move that prevents Infowars content from slipping in under a new name.
YouTube and Facebook enacted various suspensions before they both banned any Infowars-related accounts in 2018 and 2019. This ban from the Play Store feels noticeably late in comparison and only came about due to coronavirus misinformation.
A pandemic magnifying glass — Google’s Play Store is under unprecedented scrutiny as it tries to quash coronavirus misinformation and opportunists sneaking in malware. Google told Wired: "Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team. When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store."
There’s no mistaking that, while generally safe, the Play Store is much more vulnerable to bad actors than Apple’s closed ecosystem. Trying to keep up with all of them means it took a global pandemic for it to finally remove a scourge on its platform. Though it’s taken far too long, the decision is better late than never.