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Elon Musk allows controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones back on X

AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 18: Infowars founder Alex Jones interacts with supporters at the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)
Sergio Flores
/
Getty Images
AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 18: Infowars founder Alex Jones interacts with supporters at the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

Elon Musk, owner of X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday announced his decision to allow Alex Jones back on the platform.

Jones generated controversy for spreading false, wild conspiracies, claiming that a "New World Order" was sacrificing children on a California compound; that the U.S. government had "weather weapons" that triggered catastrophes like major floods; and that FBI Director Robert Mueller was a demon.

Shortly after being formally re-instated on X, Jones and Musk joined Vivek Ramaswamy, Laura Loomer (a self-described "proud Islamophobe" who has been banned from some platforms) and others in a live chat on Sunday.

"I'm telling you they want us silenced for what we said," said Jones.

The conversation covered a series of, at times, confusing topics including the "deep state" and the threats that the participants perceived to masculinity.

Allowing Jones back on X is a reversal of Musk's 2022 statement that the ban on Jones would not be lifted.

On Saturday Musk took a poll on X, and based on the results decided to reinstate Jones's account. Previous to the poll, Jones's last post on the platform was Sept. 6, 2018.

It's unknown how advertisers, who have been pulling ads from X over Musk's endorsement of antisemitic comments, will respond to Jones' return.

Musk raised eyebrows when he appeared on stage at the DealBook Summit in New York in November and leveled profanities at companies who pulled ads from X.

Muslims, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community are common targets for Jones, but what finally landed him in major legal trouble was claiming, falsely, that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. was an "inside job" and a "government operation." He also claimed, again falsely, that no one had died in the shooting - which left 26 people dead, 20 of them being children - and that everyone speaking about the event was a "crisis actor."

The families of those who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting sued Jones in Texas and in Connecticut in 2018, saying that they'd suffered emotional pain and received death threats as a result of Jones' false claims that they were crisis actors and that the tragedy was staged. The families won a total of nearly $1.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages, prompting Jones to file for bankruptcy. He has yet to pay damages to the families.

Jones has since admitted that the Sandy Hook shooting did, indeed, happen.

Attorney Chris Mattei, who represented the Sandy Hook families in that lawsuit, posted his response to Jones's return to X:

Musk has reinstated several banned or suspended accounts since purchasing Twitter, including ones belonging to former president Donald Trump and social media personality Andrew Tate, who was indicted earlier this year on human trafficking and rape charges in Romania.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

D. Parvaz
D. Parvaz is an editor at Weekend Edition. Prior to joining NPR, she worked at several news organizations covering wildfires, riots, earthquakes, a nuclear meltdown, elections, political upheaval and refugee crises in several countries.