Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was permanently banned from X, formerly Twitter, five years ago for violating the platform’s “abusive behavior” policy and amid lawsuits over his false claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting was a hoax perpetrated by anti-gun activists.
On Sunday, Jones’ account on the social media platform was reinstated after X owner Elon Musk conducted a user poll on Saturday that drew nearly 2 million votes and tallied results that showed over 70% of participants were in favor of Jones returning to the site.
Musk deferred the decision to the poll in a follow up X posting that read, “The people have spoken and so shall it be.” The reinstatement adds a potential new element of concern for advertisers that have paused or discontinued spending on the platform due to ad placement near hate speech postings and Musk’s own conduct, which has included endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory that was posted by another X user last month.
Jones account quickly drew a crowd of interest and, as of midday Monday, was showing 1.6 million followers. The Jones-founded Infowars website, which was banned from X at the same time Jones was in 2018, does not appear to be back on the platform.
Following a civil trial last year, Jones was found liable for $1.5 billion in damages to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings for falsely claiming they were actors in a plot to compel new gun control legislation.
Some of the relatives of the victims of the 2012 incident that left 20 children and six adults dead 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, according to The Associated Press.
In court testimony given in 2022, Jones admitted his claims that the shooting was a hoax were “absolutely irresponsible” and said the incident was “100% real.” Jones is currently appealing the civil court rulings in Connecticut and Texas that assessed nearly $1.5 billion in judgements against him.
Musk’s decision to allow Jones back on X reverses a vow the multibillionaire made last year to never lift the ban on Jones and that he felt “no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”
The controversial decision to allow Jones back on the platform comes less than two weeks after Musk apologized for agreeing with an X user that posted false and antisemitic claims but then followed up the apology with a profanity-laden tirade against X advertisers.
Musk also predicted that the advertising boycotts targeting X, which have included a slew of major companies in addition to Disney, including Apple, IBM, Warner Brothers and others, would lead to the demise of X, which Musk acquired in a $44 billion deal last year.
“What this advertising boycott is gonna do is it’s gonna kill the company,” Musk said. “And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company. And we’ll document it in great detail.”
On Nov. 15, Musk responded to an X posting claiming Jewish communities “have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”
Musk’s tweet in response to the posting was, “You have said the actual truth.”
At a New York Times-hosted event in late November, Musk said the tweet was the worst, among tens of thousands, he’d ever posted.
“I mean, look, I’m sorry for that … post,” Musk said, per CNN. “It was foolish of me. Of the 30,000 it might be literally the worst and dumbest post I’ve ever done. And I’ve tried my best to clarify six ways from Sunday, but you know at least I think it’ll be obvious that in fact far from being antisemitic, I’m in fact philosemitic.”
In September, Musk claimed reports about rising levels of hate speech on the X social media platform were false, including tracking and analysis by the Anti-Defamation League, and threatened to sue the group that battles intolerance and antisemitism in a series of tweets.