Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been reinstated on X, formerly known as Twitter, by company owner Elon Musk / © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
With the social media platform seemingly on a downward trend, Musk welcomes back controversial figure under the banner of "freedom of speech".
Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X, on Sunday reinstated far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on the social media platform, a year after vowing never to let him return.
Jones, who claimed that a December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six educators was a hoax, was banned from the platform -- then still known as Twitter -- in 2018 for violating its "abusive behavior policy."
He was also sued by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting and ordered by a judge in the case to pay up more than a billion dollars in damages last year.
Musk had himself promised never to let the Infowars host back on the social media platform, which he bought last year for $44 billion.
But following a poll Musk conducted on X asking whether Jones should be reinstated, to which some two million users responded, he flipped that decision.
"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?" the SpaceX founder said on X.
But Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action group which pushes for tighter gun laws, said that "defamation is not free speech."
Musk's decision comes the same week that the Sandy Hook families commemorate the 11th anniversary of the December 14 shooting, which Jones alleged was staged to allow the government to crack down on gun rights.
Jones' followers harassed the bereaved families for years, accusing parents of murdered children of being "crisis actors" whose children had never existed.
It also came a week after Musk had responded to advertisers pulling out of X because of far-right posts and hate speech, including an apparent endorsement by Musk himself of an anti-Semitic tweet.
Asked whether he would respond to the advertising exodus, Musk said in an interview with journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin that the advertisers could "go f*** yourself."
Jones, who has a million followers on X, returned to the site with his first post re-tweeting Andrew Tate, the controversial former kickboxer facing rape and human trafficking charges in Romania, in which he hailed Jones' "triumphant return"
US media reported that as of Sunday, the account of Jones' controversial show Infowars was still banned.