I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
Twitter suspended the accounts of roughly half a dozen prominent journalists on Thursday, the latest change by the social media service under its new owner, Elon Musk.
The accounts suspended included Ryan Mac of The New York Times; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; Aaron Rupar, an independent journalist; Donie O’Sullivan of CNN; Matt Binder of Mashable; Tony Webster, an independent journalist; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and the political journalist Keith Olbermann. It was unclear what the suspensions had in common; each user’s Twitter page included a message that said it suspended account that “violated the Twitter rules.” [Continue reading…]
Jack Sweeney, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida, was a big fan of the billionaire industrialist Elon Musk. In 2020, Sweeney launched a Twitter account, @ElonJet, that used public air-travel data to map the flights of Musk’s private jet, thinking it’d be cool to track how Musk managed his business empire.
But when Sweeney woke up Wednesday morning, he was stunned to see that the 530,000-follower account on Twitter, the social media platform Musk bought in October, had been “permanently suspended” without explanation. A notice on Sweeney’s Twitter account said only that the company had, “after careful review … determined your account broke the Twitter rules,” without saying which rules it broke.
On Wednesday evening, the account was briefly restored, with Twitter outlining new rules seemingly designed to prevent Sweeney from posting the real-time locations of planes used by Musk and other public figures as long as he included a slight delay. Sweeney, over Twitter, asked Musk how long he’d have to delay the data to comply.
But Wednesday evening, Musk threatened to escalate the conflict against Sweeney, saying a car carrying Musk’s son, X Æ A-12, had been “followed by [a] crazy stalker” in Los Angeles, implying without providing evidence that location data had been a factor in the purported episode. “Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,” Musk tweeted.
Sweeney, 20, shared publicly available information about Musk’s flights, not his family members or his cars. The records stopped and ended at airports, and Musk has provided no further detail as to what legal basis Musk would cite in a lawsuit.
Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” had been critical of Sweeney’s account but pledged last month to keep it online, tweeting, “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”
But to Sweeney, the abrupt suspension suggested Musk’s commitment to free expression ended as soon as it involved Musk’s personal life. [Continue reading…]