Roku has just made a bad decision with regard to its growing advertising business by associating its brand with the toxic conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones. As Digiday first reported this morning, Roku has chosen to add to the Roku platform as a supported channel the Infowars live show hosted by Jones, much to the disgust of customers now hammering the company on its social media platforms.
The company, apparently, is opting for the “we’re a neutral platform” defense in the matter, despite the fact that most major platforms have backed away from this stance with regard to Jones.
The decision to allow the channel comes at a time when Jones and Infowars are in the headlines again because of a recent update in the legal battle between the Sandy Hook families and the Infowars program. The families are suing the conspiracy theorist for spreading the false claim that the school shooting was an elaborate hoax, and that Infowars peddled these stories to stoke fear and sell more products like survivalist gear and gun paraphernalia, The New York Times reports.
A judge has ordered Infowars to turn over to the families internal documents that relate to its business plan or marketing strategies, the shooting itself, crisis actors or mass shootings in general.
Roku’s decision to allow the channel at all is a poor one not only in terms of taking a moral stance on complicated matters (if you’re of the mindset that’s something companies should do) — it seems to go against Roku’s own policy that bans content which is “unlawful, incites illegal activities or violates third-party rights.”
This is the same general premise that saw Infowars banned everywhere else.
Because of Jones’ claims, the Sandy Hook families have received death threats and have been continually harassed, even offline. Jones has also promoted other theories that led to violence, like Pizzagate.
Roku’s position, seemingly, is that the channel hasn’t done any bad stuff yet on its platform, never mind its past.