President Trump spent Friday evening mad online.
The primary target of his irritation: Facebook’s announcement this week that it was banning a handful of extremist figures deemed “dangerous” from all of its platforms — including Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones, white nationalist ex-congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, and Jones’ fellow Infowars conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson.
“Surprised to see Conservative thinkers like James Woods banned from Twitter, and Paul Watson banned from Facebook!” Trump wrote.
Trump’s administration was “continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms,” he said in one of several tweets promising a further “look” at Facebook’s decision.
I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
The President even retweeted multiple posts from Watson imploring his supporters to help him out. He also retweeted a post from alt-right Canadian media personality Lauren Southern, who has pushed the white nationalist talking point about the threat of white “genocide.” Another message shared by Trump, from an account using the handle “Deep State Exposed,” showed a video of a man claiming what would apparently happen to those who refused to convert to Islam: “We kill them, and take their women and smash their churches!” “#Trump2020,” the person added.
The beliefs of many of the people banned from Facebook and Instagram are well known. But Watson, who tweets to his 963,000 followers under the handle “Prison Planet,” has managed to avoid sustained media scrutiny of his extreme beliefs. Here are a few of the most egregious conspiracy theories the 35-year-old British Infowars “thinker” has brought us.
Claiming there are differences in IQ between races
In a 2017 Reddit “Ask Me Anything” chat, Watson claimed that African and Middle Eastern people are more aggressive due to their lower IQs.
“You can’t deny that there are differences between races when it comes to IQ,” Watson said, according to Media Matters.
Hillary Clinton was plagued by health problems during the 2016 campaign
Watson originated the bogus claims that the Democratic presidential nominee was facing grave health problems in the lead up to the 2016 election. According to a YouTube video posted by Watson, Clinton had Parkinson’s disease, syphilis, a brain tumor, a drug problem, and a host of other ailments.
“Weird seizures. Psychotic facial tics. Over-exaggerated reactions. Coughing fits. Strange lesions on her tongue. Is Hillary on the verge of a mental breakdown due to stress, or are her strange outbursts linked to a medical condition?” Watson asked in the video, which was viewed over 6 million times.
Other conservative outlets, including The Drudge Report, picked up on Watson’s claims, and Trump himself called Clinton’s health “an issue” in the race, insisting “something is going on.”
The Virginia Tech shooting was ordered by the government
Infowars is known for insisting that mass shootings are secretly “false flag” operations carried out by the government in order to institute stricter gun control regulations. Back in 2007, Watson floated an early version of this conspiracy theory, alleging that the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus, in which 33 people died, was the work of “a mind-controlled assassin” with ties to the CIA, as Media Matters documented.
Muslims “celebrate Islamic terror attacks”
Islamophobia is one of Watson’s running themes. The Infowars host has called Muslim culture “horrific” and endorsed the idea of “Islam control.”
“The left’s contention that Muslims who live in the west don’t celebrate Islamic terror attacks is a monumental lie and is proven so after virtually every single jihadist outrage,” Watson wrote in one 2017 article.
The Guardian reported that the British man who plowed a van into a crowd of worshippers leaving a mosque in London’s Finsbury Park neighborhood in June 2017 had read Watson’s article, headlined “Proof: Muslims celebrated terror attack in London,” in the weeks leading up to the attack.