Elon Musk has said he will not reinstate the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Twitter, saying he has “no mercy” for people who capitalise on the deaths of children for personal fame.

Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Jones and his Infowars website in September 2018 for violating the platform’s abusive behaviour policy.

Jones, 48, gained notoriety for pushing a false conspiracy theory about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, which led to harassment of parents who lost their children in the massacre. Jones has been ordered by a US court to pay more than $1.4bn (£1.2bn) to people who suffered from his false claim that the shooting, in which 20 children and six educators died, was a hoax.

Musk appeared to rule out a return for Jones in an interaction with Twitter users on Monday. The author and podcaster Sam Harris asked Twitter’s new owner if it was “time to let Alex Jones back on Twitter” and “if not, why not?”. Kim Dotcom, the internet entrepreneur, also asked if Jones could be reinstated in the interest of “real free speech”.

Musk replied that he had lost a child – to sudden infant death syndrome in 2002 – and said Jones used the death of children to push his own agenda. He tweeted: “My firstborn child died in my arms. I felt his last heartbeat. I have no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”

Musk has started reinstating previously banned accounts on the platform and lifted the permanent suspension on the account of the former US president Donald Trump on Sunday after conducting a Twitter poll. The Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson has also been reinstated, along with the British-US former kickboxer Andrew Tate, who had previously been banned for citing extreme misogynistic views.

On Sunday, the US rapper Ye – formerly Kanye West – tweeted the Hebrew greeting shalom, having been allowed access to his account six weeks after it was locked after the announced that he was going “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE”.

Before the wave of reinstatements in recent days, Musk had said there would be no change to the status of banned accounts until a newly announced “content moderation council” had met. He had later added that no bans would be lifted until there was a “clear process for doing so”.

However, Musk announced at the weekend that he would reinstate Trump after hosting a poll on his own account in which a slim majority of users called for the ban to be lifted. As of Monday morning, Trump’s live account had more than 87 million followers – close to its pre-ban peak – but he had not tweeted on it, having said at the weekend that he didn’t see “any reason” for returning to the platform.

Leading advertisers have paused spending on Twitter owing to concerns about moderation standards on the platform after Musk’s $44bn takeover last month.

Their concerns have been compounded by a wave of fake “verified” accounts after Musk offered a blue tick to users – which verifies who they are – for $7.99 a month as part of a relaunch of Twitter’s premium service, which has since been halted. The pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly was among the businesses hit by hoax accounts after the changes to the Twitter Blue service.

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