Twitter Restores The Accounts Of Journalists That Got Suspended…. But Elon Needs To Held Accountable For This

Late on Thursday, Elon Musk suspended the Twitter accounts of several journalists who covered him. And presumably he didn’t like something that they said or did. On Saturday, this happened:

In a tweet, Musk said he allowed the reporters to return due to the results of a poll, much like he did when reinstating the account of former President Trump. “The people have spoken. Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now,” he tweeted.

Musk, however, had faced a lot of pushback for suspending reporters who were writing about the controversy surrounding the @ElonJet account—and not actually sharing the billionaire’s real-time location in their tweets, as he claimed.

For now, the accounts of Ryan Mac (New York Times), Donie O’Sullivan (CNN), Drew Harwell (Washington Post), Micah Lee (The Intercept), Steve Herman (Voice of America), Matt Binder (Mashable), as well as freelancer writers Aaron Rupar and Tony Webster and commentator Keith Olbermann are back online. (Here’s Binder’s take) on the suspension.)

The @joinmastodon account is also back online, though one of its tweets has been flagged for violating Twitter’s rules.

And here’s Elon’s excuse for suspending them in the first place:

Twitter owner Elon Musk claims Mastodon and the journalists were suspended for breaking the platform’s rules against “doxxing,” or the act of publishing someone’s private, identifying information that could put them in harm’s way. 

“Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not,” he wrote(Opens in a new window). However, Musk says the suspensions will only last for seven days. 

In another tweet, Musk added: “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.”

He later alleged of the journalists: “They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.”

However, there doesn’t appear to be evidence that the journalists published Musk’s exact real-time location. In one case, suspended journalist Micah Lee tweeted(Opens in a new window) the Mastodon handle for the @ElonJet account while covering Twitter’s decision to suspend the Mastodon Twitter account.

Other screenshots of the last tweets from some of the journalists show them merely criticizing Musk or reporting on his claim that an alleged stalker followed a car carrying one of his children. It’s also important to note that the banned @ElonJet account usually posts only the takeoff and landing location of Musk’s jet using publicly available data.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is going on here. If you’re critical of Elon, you’re going to get suspended from Twitter. And Elon is simply using the whole “doxxing” thing as cover. Or put another way, he’s trying to muzzle the press. From a guy who likes to toss around the words free speech, that’s completely unacceptable. Though to be fair those were just words as the only free speech that Elon cares about is when that speech is flattering towards him or one of his companies which was proven by this incident.

The thing is that unless Elon is punished for this, someone else will try the same thing. And then we are all in trouble. Deep trouble. This is why I feel three two need to happen:

  • Elon needs to be held to account for this incident. And it looks like that is about to happen in the EU. And when it does, it will hurt because EU punishments tend to be very, very painful. But the same thing needs to happen in the US. I say that Elon needs to be hauled willing or not in front of a congressional hearing and made to explain his behaviour.
  • Journalists and media outlets alike need to abandon Twitter. Now I get that part of the reason that journalists and media outlets are on Twitter is to amplify their stories by getting eyeballs on them so that it helps to pay the bills. But a free press and an Elon Musk led Twitter are not compatible with each other as evidenced by the events of the last few days. And since Elon shows no signs of changing course, departure is the only option.

By going doing the above, it will accelerate the inevitable death of Twitter. Because make no mistake, Twitter will die under Elon’s leadership. It’s just a question of when. I say that because advertisers who make up the overwhelming majority of Twitter’s ad revenue don’t like congressional investigations into the platforms that the advertise on. Nor do they like countries or federations of countries like the EU investigating and punishing platforms that they advertise on. And in the absence of compelling content such as journalism should journalists and media outlets leave en masse, there’s no incentive for the average person to visit Twitter. Giving advertisers no incentive to spend money on that platform. That leaves Elon with a bunch of Twitter Blue subscribers. And that’s not going to keep the lights on. Unless of course he sells more Tesla stock which he’s done twice in a matter of weeks. But even that will start to become painful after a while for Elon, if it isn’t already. Thus Twitter will die. And it will humiliate Elon because he failed in the public eye. The fact is that despite what he thinks of himself Elon isn’t the lord and master over social media. In fact he’s not the lord and master over anything really. And it’s time that the press, media outlets, and the rest of us start treating him as such by denying him what he needs most right now. Which is money. And then you can leave the EU and hopefully congress to do the rest.

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