Elon Musk, continuing his campaign to make X a “free speech” refuge even to the detriment of the company’s business interests, said he is reinstating the account of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Twitter banned Jones in 2018, along with his Infowars program. Last year Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion to families of Sandy Hook victims over his bizarre and outrageous lies about the 2012 school shooting, which left 20 kids and six adults dead.
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Musk said X/Twitter was reinstating Jones after Musk fielded a poll on the subject to his more than 165 million followers. A majority of respondents (70% of almost 2 million votes) were in favor of the move.
“The people have spoken and so it shall be,” Musk posted late Saturday evening. He later wrote, “It is a safe bet that Community Notes will respond rapidly to any AJ post that needs correction,” referring to X’s Wikipedia-style user annotations feature.
Musk posted earlier Saturday, “I vehemently disagree with what [Jones] said about Sandy Hook, but are we a platform that believes in freedom of speech or are we not? That is what it comes down to in the end. If the people vote him back on, this will be bad for X financially, but principles matter more than money.”
As Musk alluded to, his reinstatement of Jones will not help his company persuade big marketers to buy ads on X. Last month, advertisers including Disney, Apple and Comcast/NBCUniversal halted ad spending on X over Musk’s support of an antisemitic conspiracy theory (which Musk later apologized for). At the New York Times’ DealBook Summit, Musk lashed out at fleeing advertisers, telling them, “Go fuck yourself.”
Jones and Infowars were banned by Twitter, along with YouTube, Facebook, Spotify and Apple Podcasts, in 2018. The platforms cited violations of their hate-speech and harassment policies.
Musk’s decision to let Jones back on Twitter came after he rejected user calls in November 2022 to consider it. “My firstborn child died in my arms,” Musk wrote in a post. “I felt his last heartbeat. I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”
This week Jones indirectly returned to X/Twitter when he appeared on ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show on the platform, which is what drew him to Musk’s attention. Jones told Carlson that “I trend all the time” on X/Twitter and said users asks Musk, “Hey, if you’re such an absolutist on free speech, bring back Alex Jones.” Jones also said he didn’t expect Musk to reinstate him on X, saying, “I understand that if he did that, the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] and others would really be able to probably shut down Twitter.” Carlson proudly introduced Jones on his X show as “the most censored man in the English language.”
Families of Sandy Hook victims sued Jones after he called the mass murder a “giant hoax” as “phony as a $3 bill” perpetrated by “crisis actors,” and that “no one died.” He falsely accused the parents of the children killed at the elementary school of colluding with the U.S. government in an imagined plot to curtail gun rights. After he lost the civil suits in Connecticut and Texas, Jones and his company filed for bankruptcy protection.
Jones also has accused the U.S. government of being behind the 9/11 attacks; has said that NFL players protesting during the national anthem were “kneeling to white genocide”; attacked transgender and Muslim people; and suggested that Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl halftime show was a satanic ritual.
Soon after Musk closed the Twitter deal in October 2022, the tech billionaire also conducted a poll about whether Donald Trump should be reinstated. That vote narrowly went in Trump’s favor and Musk reactivated the ex-president’s account. Musk commented on the Trump poll, “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (a Latin phrase that translates as “The voice of the people is the voice of God”), which he also used on the user poll about Alex Jones.
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