The Plays of Alex Jones. Influence Strategies that Killed Infowars. And Counterplays to Come.

August 7, 2018

The digital excommunication of hard-right showman Alex Jones and Infowars, his social media juggernaut, is a compact case study on the choices and consequences of influence strategy and the makings for a modern First Amendment showdown. Set against the Taxonomy of Influence Strategies, here’s my take on the play action of this developing political and legal drama.

Jones’ plays have largely been of the high-engagement sort. As shown above, he’s lived by the pressing and provoking strategies that seek to confront – notably Declare, Preempt, Call Out, Peacock and Bait. But there are limits to these rhetorical techniques and the livelihoods of the players that run them.

This week, Apple Computer removed Infowars from its popular podcast platform, a swift and stunning denial of a crucial distribution channel. The tech icon’s plays were two-fold: Reject to distance the socially-sensitive Apple from the socially-insensitive Jones, and Ping to signal new limits to public outrage generally and Jones’ conspiratorial hate speech specifically.

As happens when first-movers move, skittish followers followed. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube removed Jones, too. Their strategy supported Apple’s Reject but, to strategically shove Apple to the front lines, it was teamed with the copycat Crowd.

How Jones and his frothy fan base counter these executions won’t be a mystery. According to Standard Guidance for the Reject play, there are plenty of options. Watch for Jones and his posse of lawyers, supporters and other surrogates (Donald Trump?) to run Recasts and Call Outs to de-position and deride social media for their un-American, speech-killing ways, Deflects to dismiss the diss and buy time, and Decoys to distract a thirsty media from the very real damage to Infowars.

For now, at least, don’t expect Jones & Co. to make concessions or apologies by way of the freezing play, Concede. There’s too much pride, politics and book deals for the info warrior to back off, just yet. Such grace would, after all, be uncharacteristically off-script.

Post by Alan Kelly