Elon Musk provides a megaphone for fraud

Elon Musk brought Tesla, SpaceX and Starlink to the world, which has mostly been good. He certainly is creative and extremely wealthy — gotta give him credit for that. Musk is brash and boastful, which has been obnoxious but mostly harmless. He also is rude and insensitive, which can be hurtful. But he doesn’t understand his responsibilities to society, and that’s dangerous. Really dangerous.

The guy who renamed Twitter as X needs to relearn his ABCs of civic responsibility. Especially after earning a big fat F for Fail after he restored the X account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has loudly and repeatedly told the world for years that the 2012 mass murder of 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook school in Connecticut was staged.

Yes, Musk has handed back a global megaphone to a fraud, a liar, a dishonest hustler who was ordered last year by a court to pay nearly $1.5 billion to families of Sandy Hook victims for spreading false and malicious conspiracy theories. His rants have driven some of his fans to physically confront grieving family members. Others who listened to Jones have called the parents “actors” who falsely claimed to have children.

Not only does Jones make up and repeat deceitful and hurtful claims that the kids are not dead, but he has extended the deceit to his financial affairs, trying to hide assets and declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying the damages owed to the families.

Jones continues to operate his own website and podcast, including selling dietary supplements that I suppose may help people digest his garbage more easily. He was tossed off Twitter in 2018. But last weekend, Musk announced that he was letting Jones back on X.

It’s not like the multi-billionaire entrepreneur, who proudly proclaims his bona fides as a free-speech advocate, gave it a lot of thought, talked with the Sandy Hook families, consulted grief counselors or any other professional. He took a one-day poll of X users as Jones encouraged his supporters to vote for his return. It’s like a Russian election; no opposition allowed.

The day after his impromptu poll, Musk announced: “The people have spoken and so it shall be.”

With the flick of an on-off code, Jones and all his fraud-pushing, myth-making, conspiracy-conjuring dishonesty was back online. Jones will make more money, soliciting donors and selling his dietary pills.

In his first post since returning to X, he reposted a supportive “welcome back” message from someone who has been charged with rape and human trafficking. That’s a great character reference. No need for Jones to change his ways when he can use bankruptcy to avoid his debt to the Sandy Hook families and use X to continue making money. Life is good for him.

For his part in this disgraceful abuse of social media, Musk justifies his decision to restore Jones as a matter of free speech.

But what he fails to understand, or maybe just fails to even think about or care about, is that free speech gives Jones the right to say what he wants but it doesn’t mean a social media provider has to amplify it for millions to hear. Keeping Jones off X would not have abridged his free speech rights, it just would have forced him to shout louder from a street corner.

That’s his right. No need to provide him with a microphone.

 

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