Alex Jones' channels on YouTube and Facebook were shrinking for months before the panicky provocateur ultimately was shut down on the sites.
Jones, who is infamous for his frenzied political rants online, had been losing views since 2016, when he peaked with about 125 million monthly views in November, coinciding with the presidential election. In July of this year, the number of views on his videos was down to about 25 million, according to Tubular Labs, which tracks social media metrics.
The pressure on his audience size came as Facebook tuned its algorithm to show people more posts from their friends and family and fewer from media and web celebrities. At the same time, Facebook was trying to restrict the spread of disinformation, the kind that flooded the service during the 2016 election. Jones often falls under the category of inaccurate information, and sometimes outright deliberate disinformation.
The growth rate of Jones' followers on the platforms also declined since 2016, according to Tubular's stats on his main Facebook and YouTube channels. Jones added about 20,000 followers last month, down from 200,000 in November 2016.
"The platforms clearly were trying to reduce his impact," says John Cassillo, digital media analyst at Fabric Media and TV[R]EV. "Jones was a volume guy, and you could see his strategy evolve as he tried to offset being nerfed by them." ("Nerfing" is a video game design term for reducing the effectiveness of a tactic.)