Google Play Store has always been very strict about the kinds of apps in its store and the information that is displayed on it. Recently, it has come to the news that the Infowars Android App got banned by Google and is no longer visible on the Play Store when searched for it. Google confirmed the claims while talking to The Verge and said that the reason behind the app’s removal from Play Store was because of the false information the app spread related to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The app came under the radar of Google when a video posted by Alex Jones, who is a conspiracy theorist, made claims that, ‘disputed the need for social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine efforts meant to slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus.’ Till the time Google can act on it, the app already had more than 100,000 downloads.
While speaking to The Verge, a spokesperson from Google said that “Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team.” He further added, “When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store.” On trying to get in touch with the Infowars for further comment on the situation, the app owners were not available.Source
The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones also received a warning from Letitia James, a New York Attorney General, to put a stop in endorsing products by Infowars and selling them on the market as a cure or treatment for Coronavirus with wrong information. In a statement, he said, “Alex Jones’ latest mistruths are incredibly dangerous and pose a serious threat to the public health of New Yorkers and individuals across the nation.”
Various tech giant companies have also joined hands together to work against the spread of fake information surrounding the COVID-19. Google, in its way, has an SOS Alert button placed in its search bar that will show you all the information related to the novel Coronavirus and also to genuine resources shared by the World Health Organization and the CDC. Other companies like LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube also said that they are working together to combat fraud and the spread of misinformation about the Coronavirus.
The app store of Apple also banned Infowars app in September 2018, because the app did not follow some guidelines and was displaying offensive, intended to disgust, upsetting, insensitive, and in exceptionally poor taste.
Companies like YouTube has also taken a strict stand against the publishing of videos related to Coronavirus that were not following guidelines or were aiding in the spread of fake information. Videos that do not follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organization or some legalized authoritative government body. Also, videos posted by any other non-legal association related to COVID-19 will be removed and blocked by YouTube immediately.
Companies like Facebook also started banning fake ads that sold masks in the name of treatment for Coronavirus, or medicines that guaranteed treatment. Videos, posts that aimed to incite people or spread panic amongst the masses, were also taken down immediately by Facebook. Some accounts that were aiding in the spread of fake information were also caught and banned temporarily with a further warning.