Elon Musk restores X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, worrying advertisers

InfoWars founder Alex Jones speaks to the media outside Waterbury Superior Court during his trial in Waterbury, Connecticut last year
InfoWars founder Alex Jones speaks to the media outside Waterbury Superior Court during his trial in Waterbury, Connecticut last year Copyright Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images
By Euronews with AP
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The controversial far-right host was previously 'permanently banned' from the platform in 2018 after repeatedly claiming the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.

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Elon Musk has restored the X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, pointing to a poll on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that came out in favour of the Infowars host who repeatedly called the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax.

It poses new uncertainty for advertisers, who have fled X enmasse over concerns about hate speech appearing alongside their ads.

Jones is the latest divisive public personality to get back their banned account.

Musk posted a poll on Saturday asking if Jones should be reinstated, with the results showing some 70% of those who responded in favour. Early on Sunday, Musk tweeted, “The people have spoken and so it shall be.”

A few hours later, Jones' posts were visible again and he retweeted a post about his video game. He and his Infowars show had been permanently banned in 2018 for abusive behaviour.

Musk, who has described himself as a free speech absolutist, said the move was about protecting those rights. In response to a user who posted that “permanent account bans are antithetical to free speech,” Musk wrote, “I find it hard to disagree with this point.”

The billionaire Tesla CEO also tweeted it's likely that Community Notes - X's crowd-sourced fact-checking service - “will respond rapidly to any AJ post that needs correction.”

It is a major turnaround for Musk, who previously said he wouldn’t let Jones back on the platform despite repeated calls to do so.

Last year, Musk pointed to the death of his first-born child and tweeted, “I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”

Jones repeatedly has said on his show that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six educators never happened and was staged in an effort to tighten gun laws.

Relatives of many of the victims sued Jones in Connecticut and Texas, winning nearly $1.5 billion (€1.39bn) in judgments against him. In October, a judge ruled that Jones could not use bankruptcy protection to avoid paying more than $1.1 billion (€1.02bn) of that debt.

Relatives of the school shooting victims testified at the trials about being harassed and threatened by Jones’ believers, who sent threats and even confronted the grieving families in person, accusing them of being “crisis actors” whose children never existed.

Jones is appealing the judgments, saying he didn’t get fair trials and his speech was protected by the First Amendment.

Restoring Jones' account comes as Musk has seen a slew of big brands, including Disney and IBM, stop advertising on X after a report by liberal advocacy group Media Matters said ads were appearing alongside pro-Nazi content and white nationalist posts.

They also were scared away after Musk himself endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory in response to a post on X.

The Tesla CEO later apologised and visited Israel, where he toured a kibbutz attacked by Hamas militants and held talks with top Israeli leaders.

Elon Musk attends the 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Elon Musk attends the 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of ArtDimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

But he also has said advertisers are engaging in “blackmail” and, using profanity, essentially told them to go away.

“Don’t advertise,” Musk told them in an on-stage interview late last month at The New York Times DealBook Summit.

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After buying Twitter last year, Musk said he was granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts and has since reinstated former President Donald Trump; Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, following two suspensions over antisemitic posts last year; and far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was kicked off the platform for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policies.

Trump, who was banned for encouraging the 6 January Capitol insurrection in 2021, has his own social media site, Truth Social.

Trump has only tweeted once since being allowed back on X.

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