Elon Musk has restored the X accounts of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his media site Infowars. The X accounts of Jones and Infowars were “permanently banned” from Twitter by the previous management in 2018 for posting abusive content and violating the platform’s rules.
Musk ran a user poll on X on December 9 asking whether it was appropriate to bring Alex Jones back to the platform. Nearly 2 million people voted, with about 70% saying Jones’ account should be restored. Hours after the poll ended, the company reactivated Jones’ account. The Infowars account had also been restored at the time of publication.
After Musk posted the poll, he agreed with a user calling permanent account bans “antithetical to free speech.” Musk said, “I find it hard to disagree with this point.”
When a user pointed out concerns about misinformation on the platform as a result of restoring Jones’ account, Musk pointed to Community Notes and said those part of that program will “respond rapidly to any AJ post that needs correction.”
Jones has been infamous for peddling conspiracies about the Sandy Hook school shooting, which took place in 2012 and claimed 28 lives. The conspiracy theorist was sued, and had to take a stand in court for purporting that the shooting was staged. A court in Connecticut ordered Jones to pay $1.5 billion in damages last year.
Musk’s move comes amid X struggling to maintain some of the largest advertisers on the platform. Notable companies including Apple, Disney, and IBM stopped ad spending on the social network after Musk called an antisemitic theory the “actual truth.”
He later offered a clarification and apologized for his comment and called it “foolish.” But he wasn’t pleased with those who had stopped adverting on X. At the DealBook conference, Tesla CEO told advertisers to “go fuck yourself” during a conversation with journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.
“If somebody’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself,” Musk said. “Go. Fuck. Yourself. Is that clear?”
He also called out Disney’s Bog Iger, who also spoke at the conference. In the same interview, Musk said the advertising boycott was going to “kill the company” and those boycotting would be responsible for the firm’s eventual death.
Restoring accounts of Jones and Infowars may raise more eyebrows and irk advertisers and others monitoring hate speech. Responding to a user, the X owner admitted that the restoration could be bad for the platform financially but “principles matter more than money.”
After Musk took over X, he has restored many controversial figures including singer Kanye West, former U.S. President Donald Trump, far-right influencer Andrew Tate, and right-wing academic Jordan Peterson.