Alex Jones's trial might have been better if it wasn't so sad.

The parents of a 6-year-old who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were awarded more than 45 million dollars in damages by Mr. Jones. The jury decided that Mr. Jones was responsible for defaming Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis.

To the victims of Mr. Jones's harassment campaigns, and to those who have followed his career for a long time, the verdict felt long overdue. The families of the children who were killed at Sandy Hook have been waiting for Mr. Jones to pay for his lies.

Neil Heslin, the father of a victim of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, testified at Mr. Jones’s trial.Credit...Pool photo by Briana Sanchez

We should acknowledge that the verdict against Mr. Jones is unlikely to have much of an effect on the phenomenon he represents.

The decision by tech platforms to bar Mr. Jones from their services has shrunk his megaphone. He has more influence than you may think.

According to court records, Mr. Jones's store made more than $170 million in three years. Millions of Americans still look to Mr. Jones as a reliable chronicler of current events, even though he was deplatformed. An expert witness in the trial estimated the net worth of Mr. Jones and Free Speech Systems to be between $125 million and $270 million.

Mr. Jones will spin his court defeat into hours of entertaining content, all of which will generate more attention, more subscribers, and more money.

The bigger reason for caution is that Mr. Jones' lies are all over the place.

The influence of Mr. Jones on Capitol Hill can be seen and heard. In a Facebook post about the July 4 shooting in Highland Park, Ill., she suggested that a mass shooting could have been orchestrated to convince Republicans to support gun-control measures. The January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was fueled by Mr. Jones. The House panel investigating the insurrection wants a copy of the text messages from Mr. Jones's phone that were mistakenly sent to the lawyers.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has asked for the text messages from Mr. Jones’s phone that were mistakenly sent to plaintiffs’ lawyers in his defamation case.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

Right-wing media has Mr. Jones's influence. When Tucker Carlson stokes nativist fears on his Fox News show, or when a Newsmax host spins a bizarre conspiracy theory about an effort by Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, to have Justice Antonin Scalia killed, it is proof that Infowars has entered.

The way in which a new generation of conspiracy theorists look for fame online has been influenced by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones rants about gay Frogs but other creators don't. They are doing the same thing as before. Some of them focus on softer subject matter, such as the kooky wellness influencer who recently went viral for suggesting that there is a gift that comes from outer space, or the popular YouTuber who has racked up hundreds of millions of views with conspiracy theories.

Left-wing and centrist discourse owes a debt to Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones has been interviewed by the "Red Scare" show, which is popular with the "post- left" crowd. The legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, which dominated social media this summer, had a Jonesian feel to it. Joe Rogan, who has hosted Mr. Jones on his show and defended him as "hilarious" and "entertaining", has taken some of the Infowars founder's paranoia in arguing.

It would be easy to point the finger at Mr. Jones for inspiring the crankosphere. The same sweet spot of lies and entertainment has been found by many of the leading conspiracy theorists. It is possible that we have become desensitized to conspiracy theories and many of the outrageous falsehoods that once got Mr. Jones into trouble.

Some conspiracy theorists are less likely to go to court because they have learned from Mr. Jones' mistakes. They don't accuse the families of mass-shooting victims of making it all up, they just ask questions and poke holes in the official narrative. They are careful not to do anything that could get them sued or banned from social media when they attack a foe. When they lead harassment campaigns, they pick their targets wisely, which gives them broader speech protections.

There are still attempts to hold conspiracy theorists accountable. Fox News is accused of making false statements about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

An expert witness at the trial estimated the net worth of Mr. Jones and his holding company at somewhere between $135 million and $270 million.Credit... Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

The exception are not the rule. Today's media is overflowing with conspiracy theories, and it's not clear that our legal system can do anything about it.

The spread of harmful lies can be curbed by social media companies. Conspiracy theorists have gotten more sophisticated about evading their rules. If you draw a line at claiming that Bigfoot is real, attention-seeking cranks will just get their millions of views by suggesting that Bigfoot might be real and that their audiences would be wise to do their own research to figure out what Bigfoot-related secrets the deep state is hiding.

The new generation of propagandists and reactionaries admires Mr. Jones. He is a cautionary tale about what can happen when you cross too many lines, tell too many easilyprovable lies and refuse to back down.

Mr. Jones still faces the music. Sandy Hook family members have brought two more lawsuits against him and he could end up owing millions more in damages.

Even if Mr. Jones's career is ruined, his legacy of brazen, unrepentant dishonesty will live on because of the knowledge that you can push a lie before consequences kick in.