Twitter free speech enthusiast suspends journalists and more

Chief Twitter free speech enthusiast Elon Musk has suspended the accounts of a number of prominent journalists reporting on him, blocked links to rival social media service Mastodon, and closed the group audio feature Twitter Spaces, after facing awkward questions there.

Flying drone with camera

Musk has described himself as a free speech absolutist, arguing that anyone should be allowed to say anything …

Twitter free speech enthusiast Musk suspends accounts

Musk last month gave an example of the depth of his commitment to this principle:

My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk

This was a reference to the @ElonJet account – which has now been suspended, along with the personal account of the man who ran it, Jack Sweeney. The account used publicly available flight-tracking information to tweet the location of Musk’s private jet each time it took off and landed. This data is automatically transmitted by transponders fitted to all commercial aircraft and many private ones.

Musk has also said that he is taking legal action against Sweeney. He explained the U-turn by referencing an alleged “crazy stalker” incident, in which he said that his son’s car had been followed. Los Angeles Police Department said that no crime report has been received in reference to this.

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Journalist accounts suspended

Following this, the Twitter accounts of a number of prominent journalists were suspended. NBC News reports:

The accounts of Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steve Herman of Voice of America and independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster had all been suspended as of Thursday evening.

Each of these journalists had either recently reported on the suspension of the @ElonJet account, or written other pieces critical of Musk.

Musk tweeted that the accounts banned Thursday posted “my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.” NBC News was unable to verify that allegation.

CNN reports that one of the journalists had queried Musk’s posting of video footage of the alleged stalker.

Aaron Rupar, a Substack writer who was also suspended Thursday, said he’s dumbfounded by his suspension.

“I have no idea what rules I purportedly broke,” Rupar wrote on Substack. “I haven’t heard anything from Twitter at all.”

Rupar said he “posted a tweet late last night noting that Musk seemed to violate Twitter’s policy against posting footage of someone without their consent in a tweet he posted yesterday. But it’s hard to imagine how either of those things violated Twitter’s policies.”

Twitter Spaces closed down

A number of journalists participated in a Twitter Spaces group audio discussion of the events. Musk himself briefly joined the conversation, then abruptly left it after being questioned.

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TechCrunch notes that Twitter Spaces was closed down shortly afterward.

Twitter has apparently pulled its Spaces group audio feature, at least temporarily, after Elon Musk joined a group conversation that included journalists that had been banned from the platform.

9to5Mac editor-in-chief Chance Miller noted that Twitter is also blocking links to rival service Mastodon.

This is fine

The chief Twitter free speech enthusiast later tweeted something on which he saw widespread agreement.

Photo: The Ian/Unsplash

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