Eight months after YouTube banned Alex Jones, the far-right conspiracy theorist returned to YouTube to sit down with Logan Paul for a two-hour episode of his podcast Impaulsive.
This marked the second time in a month that Jones was allowed to appear on a popular YouTube personality’s channel, following a four-hour appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast in February. During his latest appearance, Jones discussed dangerous conspiracy theories, including Pizzagate and misinformation about autism. These are examples of conspiracy theories that YouTube has spent time trying to combat.
Jones was originally banned in August 2018 for using a secondary channel to live stream after his primary account was prohibited from doing so. Jones has now slowly started making his way back to the platform, repeating the same types of conspiracies and inflammatory remarks that led to him receiving warning strikes for hateful content on his channel before he was banned.
YouTube’s community guidelines don’t actually prohibit banned users from appearing on other channels. This is different from other video platforms, like Twitch, where banned streamers are prohibited from appearing on another stream.
YouTube may have taken action restricting this episode of Paul’s podcast. The episode isn’t running with any ads, suggesting that YouTube may have removed them, considering previous episodes have run with monetization enabled. The video also doesn’t appear on YouTube’s front page, nor does it appear on YouTube’s trending section, which means YouTube may have limited its promotional reach. The video, however, also doesn’t have any context-providing information boxes for some of the conspiracy topics that Jones and Paul talk about. The Verge has reached out to YouTube for more information about how banned users’ behavior is moderated on the platform.
Paul is a major presence on YouTube. He has more than 18 million subscribers (1.4 million alone on his dedicated Impaulsive channel), the majority of which tend to skew younger, tune into Paul’s channel for his antics, and may not have heard of Jones or his conspiracy theories. An appearance on Paul’s channel is vastly different from an appearance on Rogan’s, who has just over 5 million subscribers and is a professional interviewer.
While Paul, and his co-host Mike Majlak, tried to question Jones on a number of his conspiracies, including spreading blatant lies over the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2013, Jones was allowed to speak at length about his theories. He was also able to call other news reporters and TV anchors derogatory names; Jones called former NBC anchor Megyn Kelly a “god damn lying whore” and mocked the voice of CNN’s Brian Stelter. Paul and his co-hosts responded by laughing.
“If I’m going to be a human being for a second, stand by my moral grounds, I would like to forgive you and give you a second chance to talk about your future from here on out,” Paul said, after calling out Jones for his behavior regarding Sandy Hook.
Letting Jones rant means a number of his claims — including accusations that the government is poisoning water and conspiracy theories that are ripped straight from hateful forums like 4chan and 8chan — were broadcasted to Paul’s audience. Some of those theories even got the support of Majlak.
“Alex, why I think you’re the best at what you do is because you find ways to tie conspiracies that may not have enough proof to turn them into law back into things that are proven,” Majlak said.
Paul and Majlak created an avenue for Jones to spread his theories beyond his website, Infowars, and address a new audience on YouTube. Paul and other popular provocateurs have dabbled in conspiracy theories in the past since they tend to perform well on the platform. This, combined with an “incentive for high views,” as Becca Lewis, a researcher at Stanford University called it, creates a breeding ground for radicalization. It’s an aspect of YouTube culture the company has tried to combat over the last year. While YouTube isn’t recommending Paul’s Impaulsive, Jones’ message is still spreading.
The podcast episode ends with Jones inviting Paul and Majlak out to Austin and the duo asking Jones to come back on the show in the future. There are quips about making other podcast appearances and even combining their show with Rogan’s. Right before the video ends, Paul jokes that Jones can’t be found anywhere on social media. Jones is given one last chance to plug Infowars, NewsWars, and far-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson’s projects.
The episode ends with Jones and Paul laughing and sharing a fist bump.