Right-wing provocateur Alex Jones began posting on the social media platform X on Sunday after owner and CEO Elon Musk lifted ban against him. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Elon Musk, CEO of the social media platform X, has reactivated the account of conservative media personality and activist Alex Jones after users voted in favor of the move following a five-year ban.
Jones, widely known for promoting nationalist ideologies, far-right conspiracy theories and baseless claims that the 2020 election was "stolen" from Donald Trump, saw his personal account and that of his Infowars radio show banned in 2018.
He started posting new information on X, formerly known as Twitter as soon as he was reinstated on Sunday, though Infowars was still suspended.
Musk asked X users late Friday whether he should permit Jones to return to the platform. Some 70% of the respondents, or 2 million people, were in favor.
After the poll, conducted among Musk's 165 million subscribers, was complete, Musk said he would "abide by the will of the people." Only paying X subscribers were permitted to vote.
The CEO later implied that X's rules platforms will keep Jones and other would-be bad actors in check.
"It is a safe bet that Community Notes will respond rapidly to any AJ post that needs correction," Musk said, referring to X's Wikipedia-style user editing feature.
Since buying Twitter in 2022, Musk has said he would advocate for free speech and reinstated Trump's account after a similar poll narrowly went in the former president's favor. In the interim, Trump started his own social media channel called Truth Social.
"Vox Populi, Vox Dei" (a Latin phrase that translates as "The voice of the people is the voice of God"), Musk posted after the Trump vote.
Permanent suspension removes an account and prevents the user from creating new accounts, a policy that Musk agreed is antithetical to free speech, though he said Jones will not be allowed to break the law.
Jones filed for bankruptcy protection last year after he was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion in damages related to baseless claims he made following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy in 2012, calling it a hoax and "phony as a $3 bill." Twenty children and six adults were killed.
"My firstborn child died in my arms," Musk wrote in a post in 2022 when users called on him to reconsider letting Jones return to the platform. "I felt his last heartbeat. I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame."
Now, Musk has said First Amendment concerns must be a priority, and that X should be a "free speech refuge."
"I vehemently disagree with what [Jones] 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 the people vote him back on, this will be bad for X financially, but principles matter more than money." Musk posted earlier Saturday,
Disney, Apple and Comcast/NBCUniversal suspended ad buying on X citing Musk's support on an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in a social media post, for which Musk later apologized.
In an appearance on ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson's show on X, Jones said he did not expect Musk to reinstate his account.
"I understand that if he did that, the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] and others would really be able to probably shut down Twitter," Jones said.
Courts this month allowed Jones to sell firearms, cars, jewelry and boats on his Infowars program to recover costs associated with his bankruptcy filing.