May 3, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Elon Musk to reinstate X account of white nationalist Nick Fuentes

Elon Musk attends the 10th Annual Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on April 13, 2024 in Los Angeles; Nick Fuentes answers question during an interview with Agence France-Presse in Boston.

Elon Musk in Los Angeles; White nationalist Nick Fuentes answers question during an interview with Agence France-Presse in Boston. Photo: William Edwards/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk says X, formerly Twitter, will reinstate the suspended account of Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist and Holocaust-denying broadcaster.

Why it matters: Musk's announcement comes as the nation experiences a surge in antisemitism incidents and months after his social media company lost a slew of advertisers following his decision to back an antisemitic post.

  • The decision also came hours after Holocaust survivors launched a new campaign targeting antisemitism and disinformation online.
  • Fuentes' X account was still suspended as of Friday morning.

Driving the news: Musk said Thursday that he would lift the ban on Fuentes after a Fuentes supporter demanded that the white nationalist be allowed to return to X.

  • "Very well, he will be reinstated, provided he does not violate the law, and let him be crushed by the comments and Community Notes," Musk posted on X.
  • "It is better to have anti whatever out in the open to be rebutted than grow simmering in the darkness."
  • Musk then posted that he couldn't be a defender of free speech and "permanently ban someone who hasn't violated the law."
  • "This will probably cause us to lose a lot of advertisers and makes me sad, but a principle is a principle."

Catch up quick: Fuentes was first banned for repeated violations of Twitter's content moderation rules in December 2021, and he was banned on several other social media platforms as well.

Background: Fuentes, identified as a white supremacist in Justice Department filings, has questioned the Holocaust, criticized interracial marriage and defended Jim Crow-era segregation.

  • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes him as "a white supremacist leader and podcaster who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP."

Between the lines: Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech "absolutist," has repeatedly claimed that he would protect all forms of speech on Twitter.

The big picture: Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. more than doubled last year and set another record primarily driven by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel, the ADL said last month.

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