Skip to content

Being Thrown Off Social Media Was Supposed to End Alex Jones’s Career. It Made Him Even Richer

Revelations from his defamation trials show the limits of “deplatforming” and the greed of Facebook and its peers.

relates to Being Thrown Off Social Media Was Supposed to End Alex Jones’s Career. It Made Him Even Richer
Illustration: Konrad Adam Modrzejewski for Bloomberg Businessweek

Has there ever been anyone more worthy of cancellation than Alex Jones? Over almost 30 years, the far-right radio host and professional conspiracy theorist built a career, an audience of millions, and an astonishing fortune by spreading lies about acts of mass violence and their victims. On public access TV in Austin, it was the Oklahoma City bombing. On radio and mail-order DVDs, he claimed the Bush administration orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks. And most notoriously, as an internet broadcaster with enormous followings on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Jones upped the ante, focusing his lies on the victims of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In Jones’s telling, the 20 students and six school staffers who were murdered in Newtown, Conn., didn’t really die; their grieving families, he said, were “crisis actors,” faking their unspeakable pain. Jones used the attention generated by his lies to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise and other products.

To state the obvious, this is cruel, cynical, and gross. In the cases of the Sandy Hook victims and their families, it was also defamatory, according to judges in a handful of lawsuits in Connecticut and Texas. One of these cases, a lawsuit brought by the parents of Jesse Lewis, who was 6 when he was executed a decade ago, concluded this month with a jury awarding his parents $49 million in damages. The trial called attention to both Jones’s callousness and also, thanks to his lawyers accidentally sharing the contents of his iPhone with the plaintiffs’ legal team, his involvement in last year’s failed insurrection at the US Capitol. It also showed just how much money and influence Jones continues to command in 2022, four long years after he was supposedly barred from the civilized internet.