Elon Musk is holding a poll about reinstating Alex Jones’ account Alex Jones speaks during an anti-lockdown rally at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 25, 2020 © AP / Eric Gay
X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk has asked the public to vote on whether to reinstate the account of Infowars host Alex Jones. Musk said that maintaining the ban on Jones would go against his belief in free speech.
Musk posted his poll on Saturday afternoon, asking X users whether they wanted him to “reinstate Alex Jones on this platform?” With eight hours to go at time of writing, 70% were in favor of Jones’ reinstatement, and 30% opposed.
“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk wrote in his post. Musk used this Latin phrase, which means “the voice of the people is the voice of God,” when he reinstated former US President Donald Trump’s account after a similar vote last year.
Jones and his InfoWars channel were banned from every major social media platform in 2018, with the Silicon Valley firms citing “hate speech” and alleged breaches of their terms of service. Jones was also banned from using PayPal for business transactions over his alleged “intolerance against certain communities and religions.”
Reinstate Alex Jones on this platform?Vox Populi, Vox Dei.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2023
After purchasing Twitter last year and rebranding the platform as X, Musk rolled back many of the company’s speech rules and censorship policies, and offered a “general amnesty” to previously banned users. However, he wrote last year that after the death of his infant son, he would never allow Jones back, describing the Infowars shock-jock as someone “who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”
Jones had previously claimed that the Sandy Hook school shooting of 2012 was perpetuated by the US government to drum up support for gun control. A group of victims’ families sued Jones over his comments, and a judge ordered him to pay over $1.5 billion in damages last year. Jones, who filed for bankruptcy shortly after the verdict, has vowed to appeal the decision.
Musk’s opinion of Jones appears to have softened after former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who now hosts a self-produced show on X, interviewed the notorious pundit earlier this week. Introducing his guest as “the most censored man in the English language,” Carlson sat down to an hour-long discussion with Jones, during which Jones said that he understood that if Musk allowed him back on X, “the ADL and others would really be able to shut down Twitter.”
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish NGO, has previously clashed with Musk over X’s alleged tolerance of “rampant hate speech.” The ADL settled its beef after Musk threatened to sue the organization for driving away advertisers with “false accusations.”
Responding to an X user later on Saturday, Musk wrote that “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,” he added.