- Jim Bourg/Reuters
- Apple removed most of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars podcasts from its directory on Sunday.
- However, Apple didn’t remove the official Infowars app from its App Store, which allows access to much of the same material.
- It now looks like the decision to remove the podcasts has caused downloads of the Infowars app to spike – one analyst said it looked like downloads had gone up 10x.
- It’s now the No. 4 news app in the U.S. App Store, ahead of CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times.
Apple removed five Infowars podcasts from iTunes late Sunday night, starting a domino reaction of other tech companies removing the controversial media group’s content from their platforms. The removed podcasts included the popular “The Alex Jones Show,” which has been known to promote conspiracy theories.
But although Apple removed Infowars from its podcast directory, it did not remove the official Infowars app from its separate App Store platform. That app, called Infowars Official, has some of the exact same content as the podcast – including livestreams and the most recently recorded broadcast of “The Alex Jones Show.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook and head of internet services Eddy Cue didn’t think the app violated Apple’s policy, although they made the call to pull the podcasts because they believed they qualified as hate speech, according to CNN.
Naturally, the Infowars Official app is now spiking on Apple’s App Store charts. “With your help spreading it and downloading it, we are unstoppable,” Jones said on a Monday broadcast.
It was No. 4 on the U.S. “news” category on Tuesday, ahead of apps from The New York Times, Buzzfeed, CNN, and Fox News.
On Tuesday afternoon, Infowars Official was the No. 482 free app in the U.S. App Store at one point, after having not ranked in the top 1500 before Monday, according to Sensor Tower, an app analytics firm.
“That’s not topping the charts by any means, but it does represent a huge increase in installs,” Sensor Tower analyst Randy Nelson said in an email. “We’re talking from a few hundred per day on U.S. iPhone to a few thousand, or about 10x.”
On Monday, Sensor Tower estimated that the app had been downloaded close to 60,000 times before the podcast ban.
- Sensor Tower
App analytics firm Apptopia also saw a spike of downloads of the Infowars app on Monday. They provided an estimate that the app had been downloaded 2,294 times yesterday, bringing the app to about 95,000 total downloads.
Apptopia told Business Insider on Tuesday that it estimated about 650,000 total hours have been spent in the Infowars app since launch.
Apple has removed apps from the App Store before – last month, it removed an app, Qdrops, focusing on a far right conspiracy theory called “Qanon” involving Hillary Clinton and an alleged child sex ring.
Apple’s App Store has strict guidelines: All apps are reviewed by Apple itself before being available to download. The App Store is the only official way to load apps onto the iPhone and iPad, meaning that Apple itself is the ultimate arbiter of what users can run on their devices.
The Infowars Official app is still available on the Google Play store, too, where it ranks No. 2 on the “top new free News & Magazines apps.”
Apple decided to remove the Infowars podcasts after a period of increased scrutiny of Jones and the Infowars network, which led to activist pressure on tech companies to pull his content from their distribution platforms.
Jones has pushed a theory, without evidence, that Democrats were planning to start a “Civil War” in the United States on July 4. He has also claimed that the mass shooting in Sandy Hook never happened, which has led to harassment of survivors and their families.
There is still one Infowars podcast on the iTunes directory: “Real News With David Knight.”
Apple hasn’t commented on the Infowars Official app and didn’t respond to repeated requests from Business Insider.