lon Musk said conspiracy theorist Alex Jones would be reinstated on X, a reversal from the billionaire’s previous position that comes as he openly battles advertisers over their concerns about toxic content on the platform.
Musk late Saturday night Pacific time announced the reversal of the platform’s five-year-old ban on Jones after running a user poll on X about whether to reinstate him. Musk had said earlier Saturday that the reason for rescinding the ban, if the X voters approved, was to foster free speech.
About 70% of respondents voted for reinstatement, and about 30% voted against. “The people have spoken and so it shall be,” Musk subsequently posted.
Musk said last year that he wouldn’t bring back Jones, an internet broadcaster who for years claimed that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax. Twenty schoolchildren and six adults were killed by a gunman in the 2012 incident. Family members of the shooting victims later won huge judgments in defamation cases against Jones.
Asked in November 2022 by a user on X, then called Twitter, to let Jones back on the platform, Musk posted: “I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.” He cited his own painful experience with the death of his firstborn child. Urged by another user around that time to reinstate Jones, Musk answered simply: “No.”
The reversal is sure to fuel further discord between Musk, who bought Twitter in October last year for $44 billion, and the big advertisers who long provided most of its revenue.
Many big brands have pulled back advertising over concerns about Musk’s leadership of the platform and his endorsement of a number posts that have been antisemitic or otherwise disturbing to many users. Musk in some of those cases has acknowledged that he was mistaken but also has increasingly said that he thinks speech on X should be curtailed as little as possible within the law.
Relations with advertisers hit a new low in recent weeks as Musk told brands that pulled their ads to “go f— yourself.” X has been trying to broaden its advertising base including with smaller businesses.
Joe Benarroch, head of business operations at X, said on Sunday that Jones’s profile won’t have monetization, so ads won’t appear against his posts.
Twitter, then under different management, permanently banned Alex Jones in 2018, citing repeated violations of its policies including one barring abusive behavior. Other tech companies, including Facebook and Alphabet’s YouTube, have suspended various accounts associated with Jones in past years.
Users again raised the subject of Jones on X this past week. Musk, responding to one who said it was time to bring back Jones, said he would consider it. “In general, since this platform aspires to be the global town square, permanent bans should be extremely rare,” Musk posted. He also said X’s crowdsourced fact-checking feature, known as Community Notes, would correct Jones if he said something false on the platform.
Musk then posted the poll on Saturday asking users if Jones should be reinstated.
“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?” Musk posted Saturday. “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.”
During an X Spaces session with Jones and others on Sunday, Musk continued his combative rhetoric against companies and organizations he views as hostile to X’s business and freedom of speech.
In response to a question about Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media watchdog group that X sued last month alleging it was trying to drive away advertisers when it reported that ads on X appeared next to antisemitic or pro-Nazi content, Musk said X was suing them in every country in which they operate.
“Anyone funding that organization, we will pursue them,” he said, calling the organization “an evil propaganda machine.”
Media Matters had previously called the suit frivolous. A spokeswoman for Media Matters didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since acquiring Twitter, Musk has argued that he is loosening content policies in favor of what he termed free speech. He ordered the mass reversal of bans of many previously suspended users, except for accounts that broke the law or “engaged in egregious spam.”
Musk also reinstated former President Donald Trump’s account, after polling users about the decision. Trump, who is running for president again and has his own social-media site, Truth Social, has posted only once on X since being reinstated.
Musk also intervened to reinstate musician Kanye West’s account, The Wall Street Journal previously reported. The platform had suspended West last year for violating its rule against hate speech after he posted an image of a swastika merged with a Star of David.
David Knight tweeted out a thought provoking and controversial response to the news.
@Libertytarian on ‘X’:
I worked for #AlexJones for nearly a decade. Had a 3 hour program where I gave my take on what was happening without editorial interference — until 2020 2020 was the year he truly showed what he was made of with the “4D Chess” excuses for Trump rolling out the lockdowns, medical martial law, and creating the shots. And then he went full in on “Stop the Steal”, laying the groundwork for it 2 days after the election with Steve Pieczenik’s BIG lie about “blockchain quantum” ballots identifying those who rigged the election and 20,000 National Guard already arresting people (2 days after the election). It had 1.4M views in the first day. Rush Limbaugh commented on it. Clarence Thomas’ wife sent it to Mark Meadows asking if it was true. It wasn’t. I opposed it here and on my Infowars show. I was told I would be fired if I kept it up. I continued to call it BS. When Alex was raising (who knows how much) money for his Jan6 shenanigans, I called it a grift on air there at Infowars. I was fired on 17Dec20. I continued to warn people away from J6 up to, and including that morning on my now independent show. I’m on record that it would a setup, loaded with federal agent provocateurs. Tucker & Alex are close friends — both are trust fund kids with extensive family connections to the CIA. Agent provocateurs come in many guises.
I worked for #AlexJones for nearly a decade. Had a 3 hour program where I gave my take on what was happening without editorial interference — until 2020
2020 was the year he truly showed what he was made of with the "4D Chess" excuses for Trump rolling out the lockdowns,…
— David Knight Show LIVE 9am EST, M-F (@libertytarian) December 10, 2023
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— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) December 10, 2023
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) December 10, 2023