Elon Musk reverses Twitter ban of Sandy Hook shooting-denier Alex Jones

Enlarge / Infowars-founder Alex Jones speaks to the media outside Waterbury Superior Court on September 21, 2022 during one of his Sandy Hook defamation trials.

Getty Images | Joe Buglewicz

Elon Musk has allowed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones back on the social network formerly named Twitter, despite saying that he “vehemently” disagrees with Jones’ claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

Musk restored the @RealAlexJones account after polling X users. With almost 2 million votes, about 70 percent of users supported reinstating Jones, who was banned by Twitter in 2018.

“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? 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 wrote on Saturday. Musk also spoke with Jones about his Sandy Hook comments in a live interview on X.

After the poll ended on Sunday, Musk wrote, “The people have spoken and so it shall be.” Before reinstating Jones, Musk wrote that “if he does say something false on this platform, then @CommunityNotes will correct him, whereas that would not be the case elsewhere.”

Jones quickly resumed making posts on X after the ban was lifted, and the @infowars account has also been restored. In one post today, Jones credited a recent interview with Tucker Carlson for helping him get back on the social network.

Twitter “permanently suspended” Jones in 2018

Though he now admits the Sandy Hook shooting was real, Jones repeatedly called it a hoax and was sued for defamation by family members of victims. The shooting at the Connecticut school in December 2012 killed 26 people, including 20 children and six adult staff members.

Sandy Hook families won about $1.5 billion worth of court judgments against Jones, who filed for bankruptcy last year after losing the verdicts. During one of his defamation trials, Jones acknowledged that his statements were wrong and that the mass shooting was “100 percent real.” Sandy Hook families recently offered to settle with Jones for $85 million over 10 years.

Twitter announced that it “permanently suspended” Jones and Infowars in September 2018, citing “new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.” At the time, a Twitter spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the final straw was an Infowars video in which Jones berated CNN reporter Oliver Darcy.

In that video, Jones told Darcy that he has “the eyes of a rat,” that he smiles “like a possum that crawled out of the rear end of a dead cow,” and called him “the equivalent of like the Hitler Youth.” Jones’ confrontation with Darcy happened “in a Senate office building outside of the room where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before lawmakers on foreign election influence,” The Hill wrote at the time.

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