Elon Musk ruffles everyone’s feathers with journalist suspensions
The Future. Last week, Elon Musk got a little trigger-happy with Twitter’s suspension button, silencing prominent journalists from outlets like NYT, CNN, and WaPo who covered his suspension of an account that tracked his private jet. Their suspensions have already been lifted due to immense backlash but coupled with the temporary blockage of links to rival platform Mastodon, Musk may find himself in regulatory hot water… if he’s even running the company by the end of the day.
Free speech for me but not for thee
Here’s why Musk — a self-described “free speech absolutist” — went on a Twitter ban-spree on Thursday, according to NYT:
- It started with the ban of the jet-tracking account @ElonJet, which does so using publicly-available information — something the CEO said he would never do.
- Several journalists covered the incident, posting links to the flight information, or in Musk’s words, “assassination coordinates.”
- After an alleged stalking incident involving one of his children, Musk introduced a new policy concerning “doxxing,” and suspended the journalists (and 3rd-party links to rival platform Mastodon).
- And after the suspended journalists were able to access Spaces, Musk joined the room, gave his terse explanation, and dipped. He then took Spaces offline to fix the glitch.
In the heat of the backlash, Musk put up a Twitter poll (classic Elon) that asked users when he should lift the suspensions. Ultimately, 59% responded, “Now.” So, Musk lifted the ban late Friday night.
Coming for the nest
The suspensions have not sat well with US and EU government officials.
- Věra Jourová, a VP of the European Commission, said the suspensions violated the EU’s Digital Services Act and its Media Freedom Act.
- US State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said it was “difficult to square how these removals are consistent with promoting free exchange.”
With all that turmoil, Twitter may face an even steeper uphill battle to get those lucrative advertisers back.