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Elon Musk restores X account of Alex Jones, right-wing conspiracy theorist banned for abusive behavior

Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1 billion
Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to Sandy Hook families 03:11

Elon Musk has restored the X account of Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and far-right broadcaster known primarily for heading the fake news website InfoWars and for using that platform and others to spread false claims about the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Jones and InfoWars were kicked off in what was called a permanent ban in 2018 from Twitter, the social media site that rebranded itself as X earlier this year under Musk's ownership. The billionaire bought Twitter in at the end of 2022 in a $44 billion deal and has since reinstated numerous accounts that had been banned before the acquisition, including several belonging to prominent controversial figures like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the satirical right-wing outlet Babylon Bee and former President Donald Trump, who were originally kicked off of Twitter for violating the company's rules against misinformation, hateful conduct and speech that risks inciting violence. 

Musk announced that Jones' X account would be reinstated in a post shared Saturday that included the results of a poll asking social media users whether they supported Jones' return to the site or not. He has run similar polls in the past before restoring other controversial accounts that were banned under Twitter's old leadership.

"Reinstate Alex Jones on this platform?" Musk wrote, alongside "Vox Populi, Vox Dei" — a Latin phrase meaning "the voice of the people is the voice of God," which was a slogan used by the defunct conservative Whig party — and the results of the poll, which showed that 70% of respondents supported the restoration of Jones' account.

"The people have spoken and so it shall be," Musk added.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO vowed shortly after taking over Twitter last year to never reinstate Jones' account on the platform. After initially replying with a straightforward, "No," to requests for reinstatement from Jones, who was barred from Twitter for abusive behavior, Musk wrote in a November 2022 post, "My firstborn child died in my arms. I felt his last heartbeat. I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame." 

For his false claims the Sandy Hook massacre was "a hoax," Jones has faced defamation lawsuits and was ordered to pay more than $1 billion in damages to families of victims of the 2012 shooting, which left 26 people dead. Twenty of the victims were children between the ages of six and seven years old. The others were adult staff members at the school. 

In a separate social media post about Jones' X account shared on Saturday, Musk said, "I vehemently disagree with what he 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 people vote him back on, this will be bad for X financially, but principles matter more than money," he wrote. 

New policies surrounding content moderation on Musk's X have alienated advertisers concerned about their ads appearing alongside hate speech on the site. His calls for "freedom of speech" on X have faced growing backlash, and, in some instances, widespread condemnation, over the past year as critics point to the site's lax restrictions on harassment, racism, white supremacist ideology and other hateful language.

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