Jan 22, 2024

Alex Jones is making things worse for advertisers on X

It’s been a little over a month since X owner Elon Musk restored the account of conspiracy grifter Alex Jones, who was supposedly permanently suspended in 2018. Now Jones’ following has more than doubled to over 2 million, making X less safe for everyone on it — especially advertisers.

It looks like Jones himself isn’t monetized, which is good. But by just being back on the platform at all, he makes advertising on X riskier for every single brand.

It happens like this: First, Jones creates content. Then, he puts it on X for his millions of followers to see. While his posts aren’t directly monetized, the people quote tweeting his conspiratorial content sometimes are. And so are some of the conspiratorial accounts Jones amplifies to his millions of followers with retweets.

Because of this, an unwitting advertiser can easily be showcased beneath some of the most unhinged content on X — and it’s all because Alex Jones is back on the website, and bigger than ever.

How is he back?

It all started on Dec. 10, 2023, when Musk reinstated Jones after deep, careful consideration — kidding! He did it after a poll on X.

Musk launched the poll in direct contradiction to his own past statements about Jones. In Nov. 2022, Musk said he would not revive Jones’ suspended account as, having lost a son to sudden infant death syndrome, he has “no mercy” for those who would “use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”

The notorious conspiracy theorist was ordered to pay $1.1 billion after repeatedly lying about the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre — lies that caused victims’ families to be harassed, threatened and traumatized for more than a decade.

What a difference a year makes. When 70% of the roughly 2 million poll respondents agreed Jones should be brought back, Musk abdicated all responsibility, proclaiming: “the people have spoken and so it shall be.”

In the month or so since his reinstatement, Jones has called the Jan. 6 insurrection a “set up,” repeatedly spread the racist and often antisemitic great replacement conspiracy (an ideology that has inspired mass violence), and alleged babies are being “killed by the millions” for the “cosmetic industry.”

And that’s just a taste. He’s been busy.

How are ads appearing next to his conent?

Even though we couldn't find advertisements being placed directly on Jones’ posts, the same can't be said for quote tweets.

We found multiple examples of ads being served under a quote tweet of Jones’ content — ones that do not fact check or dispel the disinformation Jones is spewing in the original post.

A custom sticker brand, Sticker Mule, was advertised under a quote tweet that attacked Alex Jones for failing to be anti-vaccine enough. The original video, also showcased just above the ad, alleged the COVID-19 vaccine produces a “poison protein” (it doesn’t).

An ad for StickerMula appearing below a quote tweet of Alex Jones
An ad for StickerMule appearing below a quote tweet of Alex Jones

We were also served an ad for Edutopia, an education initiative tied to filmmaker George Lucas, under a quote tweet from an individual sharing Alex Jones’ call for an “investigation of New York Jewish Center tunnels.”

In the video, which autoplays, Jones floats baseless allegations of human trafficking taking place in the tunnels — and the quote tweet does not question his unhinged claims.

An ad for Edutopia appearing below a quote tweet of Alex Jones.

Another quote post — this time of an Alex Jones video about an invented human trafficking conspiracy — alleges the “administration is actively involved in Human and Child Trafficking.” The quote post also claims that WWIII is already underway.

Congratulations to OPPSCIENCE! Your ad spend on X landed your brand below this particular doozy.

An ad for OppScience appearing below a quote tweet of Alex Jones
An ad for OppScience appearing below a quote tweet of Alex Jones.

It’s not only the quote posts. We looked at the accounts Jones himself is amplifying, including ones belonging to his InfoWars employees, and found more brands in the Bad Place.

Because, while X doesn’t appear to serve ads in Jones’ replies, it will serve them in the replies to posts that Jones reposts — even if they’re engaging in election disinformation.

An ad for Pardon My Take appearing below an Alex Jones reteet of disinformation.
An ad for Pardon My Take appearing below an Alex Jones reteet of disinformation.

Alex Jones makes everything less safe

All of these brand unsafe situations have one thing in common: Jones made each one of them worse.

Reinstating Jones on X was like dropping toxic waste into a river — it’s made the whole environment much more unsafe.

Instead of trying to navigate the toxic sludge on X while hoping not to choke on a brand safety scandal, companies have an easy solution here:

Stop advertising on X.

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