- After years of public pressure, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was largely barred from the world's largest social media platforms last month.
- Jones has spent more than two decades developing his own eccentric, often harmful, occasionally dangerous brand of shock-based storytelling, which he and his followers pass off as truth-telling.
- Now, however, Jones, 44, faces a reckoning, as many of the platforms that drove his success — most notably YouTube — have cut him off.
After years of public pressure, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was recently largely barred from the world's largest social media platforms.
Jones has spent more than two decades developing his own kind of shocking and dangerous brand of storytelling, including calling the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks an "inside job" perpetrated by the U.S. government. He and his followers pass off these narratives as truth-telling, despite lacking sufficient evidence. Thanks to sales of his dubious nutritional products, Jones has turned his venture into a lucrative business model, earning more than $20 million in revenues annually in recent years, according to court documents.
Now, however, Jones, 44, faces a reckoning, as many of the platforms that drove his success — most notably YouTube — have cut him off. The media emperor who President Donald Trump once said had an "amazing" reputation faces the largest setback of his career.
Below are five of his most outrageous and disturbing theories.
Jones doesn't just believe that secretive forces are at work to control people's minds: He has also warned, for years, about government efforts to control the weather to wreak havoc on unsuspecting citizens.
In a 2013 broadcast, Jones warned that "of course there's weather weapon stuff going on," according to a transcript produced by Media Matters, a left-leaning watchdog organization. "We had floods in Texas like fifteen years ago, killed thirty-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force."
Jones acknowledged the existence of "natural" tornadoes, but insisted that a May 2013 tornado that killed two dozen people and left more than 200 injured may have been orchestrated by the government, which he said "can create and steer groups of tornadoes."
In a broadcast this summer, Jones maintained that "there is weather-modification going on."
"They tell you about the stuff you know about, GPS and all of that. But when it comes to controlling the weather, they don't. But it's in all the trade publications, the university publications. It's all there, and that's my frustration," he said.
One of Jones' most notorious conspiracy theories is that the government is using chemicals in order to turn people gay, using a mysterious "gay bomb" devised by the Pentagon.
"The reason there's so many gay people now is because it's a chemical warfare operation, and I have the government documents where they said they're going to encourage homosexuality with chemicals so that people don't have children," he said on his broadcast in 2010, according to NBC News.
Five years later, the theory took a turn. In a rant that has since become a meme and a line of t-shirts, Jones said he didn't like the government "putting chemicals in the water that turn the friggin' frogs gay."
"The majority of frogs in most areas of the United States are now gay," Jones said in 2017. The claim was without evidence.
In 1994, a government lab did request funds to pursue the development of a weapon that would turn enemy combatants gay, though the project was quickly shelved and no such weapon was developed. A 2013 report in Gizmodo notes that the same lab also requested funding for "bad-breath bombs, flatulence bombs and bombs designed to attract swarms of stinging insects to enemy combatants," noting that "the gay bomb is certainly the most novel."
Jones has reserved some of his harshest vitriol for Trump's enemies, in particular special counsel Robert Mueller.
"He is now the king of the swamp," Jones said of Mueller in a broadcast in the fall of 2017, according to Media Matters. After briefly claiming that the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was the real leader of the Democratic Party, Jones said Mueller was "the literal swamp king creature come to kill America."
Jones took his attacks up a notch a year later.
"Everyone's so scared of Mueller, they'd let Mueller rape kids in front of people, which he did," Jones said in July. He hedged the claim later in the broadcast, noting that "the word is he doesn't have sex with kids, he just controls it all. Can you imagine being a monster like that?"
Jones then threatened to "take down" the former Marine, who is now leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"That's a demon I will take down, or I'll die trying," he said. "So that's it. It's going to happen, we're going to walk out in the square, politically, at high noon, and he's going to find out whether he makes a move man, make the move first, and then it's going to happen. It's not a joke. It's not a game. It's the real world. Politically. You're going to get it, or I'm going to die trying, bitch."
That claim led to increased pressure on social media companies, particularly Facebook, to take down Jones' pages.
One of the few conspiracy theories that has led to real consequences for Jones is his claim that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 dead, including 20 children between six and seven years old, was a hoax that employed so-called "crisis actors."
Jones claimed that the shooting was "completely fake" and staged in order to promote more restrictive gun control policies. Earlier this year, families of children who were killed in the shooting sued Jones for defamation, specifically citing comments he made in an April 2017 broadcast titled "Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed."
Eight families have sued Jones, claiming that his reports on the Sandy Hook massacre have caused them immense personal pain and led his followers to harass them.
After originally calling the shooting a "hoax," Jones later said that he believed it "really happened" but insisted that the families suing him were agents of the Democratic Party.
Jones did not invent the so-called "pizzagate" conspiracy theory.
But Edgar Maddison Welch, the self-proclaimed "investigator" who fired multiple rounds into the kid-friendly D.C. pizzeria Comet Ping Pong in late 2016, followed Jones on Facebook and listened to his radio show, according to reports at the time. Welch was later sentenced to four years in prison.
The "pizzagate" conspiracy theory included the baseless claims that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her top associates were running a demonic sex-trafficking ring inside the pizza shop. Jones promoted the theory on his web site and on social media.
Followers of the conspiracy relied on opaque "clues" hidden in emails exchanged between Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, which were stolen by hackers and then released by Wikileaks in the final weeks of the 2016 election. An indictment obtained by Mueller in July alleged that those emails were obtained by Russian intelligence officers.
Jones issued an apology for his role in promoting the pizzagate conspiracy on the day that Welch pleaded guilty.
"I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on [Comet Ping Pong owner James] Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees," Jones wrote. "We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing."