Since taking over Twitter in late October, Elon Musk has reinstated a slew ofbelonging to public figures, from former President Donald Trump and rapper Ye to comedian Kathy Griffin.
But there's one right-wing lighting rod the billionaire won't allow back on the platform, Musk told his followers on Sunday: Alex Jones. The conspiracy theorist and founder of Infowars was banned from Twitter back in 2018 for abusive behavior.
Prominent figures, including philosopher Sam Harris and internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, asked whether it was time to bring back Jones. The restitution would be "in the name of free speech," as Harris put it.
Initially, Musk replied to Jones's comeback requests with a simple "No." On Sunday, the Tesla CEO explained why he was drawing a line.
"My firstborn child died in my arms. I felt his last heartbeat," Musk wrote. "I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame."
Jones repeatedly claimed that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementaryin Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, was a hoax staged to erode support for gun ownership.
He has since reversed himself. Testifying in a recent court case brought by parents of a murdered child who sued him for defamation, Jones conceded that the shooting was "." In October, he was also ordered to , with a jury and a judge imposing separate damages in the Connecticut case. The Sandy Hook incident remains the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
Twitter users immediately pushed back on Musk's logic.
"I get it, and that's a terrible thing for any father to have to go though. You have my sympathy. But free speech is about allowing the speech that you hate, find tasteless and consider awful to be said. I respectfully disagree with you on this point," one user posted.
Kim Dotcom pointed out that prominent Tweeters, including politicians, are allowed to use the platform even after ordering others killed.
"I agree that Alex hurt the Sandy Hook parents. That's a stain of shame for the rest of his life. But Biden killed a family with 7 kids in a drone strike and he's still on Twitter," Dotcom said.
British rapper Zuby noted that Jones had apologized for his denial and wondered why other public figures are permitted on the platform after doing "objectively worse things."
"If peddling and profiting off 'misinformation', 'disinformation', and 'hateful rhetoric' are the greatest sins in the world, then we really need to gut the entire mainstream media establishment and 80% of politicians," he said.
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