Alex Jones is back on X after another Elon Musk poll

11 Dec 2023

Elon Musk speaking at TED2017. Image: Marla Aufmuth/TED Conference/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Musk used a poll result in 2022 to offer ‘general amnesty’ to various suspended accounts on the platform, but refused to bring Alex Jones back at the time.

Elon Musk has unsuspended the X account of Alex Jones, a controversial conspiracy theorist whose account was suspended in 2018.

Musk put up a poll on X over the weekend asking his followers if Jones should be reinstated on the platform. This post also had a Latin phrase, which translates to “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.

More than 1.96m people voted in the poll, with 70pc voting in favour of bringing back Jones. The conspiracy theorist and his associated account Infowars were permanently suspended in 2018 – back when X was Twitter – after a video emerged of Jones getting into a heated altercation with CNN reporter Oliver Darcy

Twitter said at the time that the suspension occurred due to reports of tweets and videos being posted “that violate our abusive behaviour policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations”.

Jones’ first move after rejoining the platform was to share a post from controversial media personality Andrew Tate, which praised both Jones and Musk. Tate has been charged in Romania with human trafficking, rape and forming an organised crime group.

The three figures also appeared together on a live-streamed chat on X, after Jones was brought back onto the platform.

In polls we trust?

This isn’t the first time Musk has used a social media poll as a way to bring back controversial figures to the platform. Last year, he asked his followers if a “general amnesty” should be offered to accounts that were banned before he took over the site.

Accounts such as those of former US president Donald Trump, Tate and US rapper Ye – formerly Kanye West – were brought back last year. Ye was suspended again after he made a series of antisemitic remarks during an interview with Jones. Ye was brought back onto the platform earlier this year, though it appears he has been quiet since.

Jones’ account was not brought back during this period of general amnesty. Musk said at the time that he “has no mercy” for anyone who “would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame”.

Jones previously said the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was staged and was ordered to pay $1.5bn in damages to family members of the victims, as a court claimed his actions subjected these family members to harassment. After the ruling, Jones and his company declared bankruptcy. The family members recently offered to settle with Jones for him to pay a minimum of $85m over 10 years.

The decision to bring Jones back to X comes less than a week before the anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Meanwhile, X is continuing to suffer with advertisers, as several major brands have recently pulled their ads off of the platform, including IBM and Disney. Musk appears to have taken issue with Disney’s decision in particular and recently called for CEO Bob Iger to be “fired immediately”.

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Elon Musk speaking at TED2017. Image: Marla Aufmuth/TED Conference via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic