On Thursday night, Elon Musk, probably the world’s pettiest man, banned at least nine journalists from Twitter. While the reasons for the bans have not been disclosed to the journalists, several have posted about the Twitter account that used publicly available data to monitor Elon Musk’s private jet.
The “permanent suspensions,” as they are known on Twitter, of journalists follow Musk’s Wednesday shutdown of the @ElonJet account, which he later justified as a threat to the security of his family. Musk has declared that he will sue the college student who managed the account. Musk had insisted the account wouldn’t be suspended just a few weeks before because he so strongly believed in free expression.
Musk wrote on Twitter late Thursday, “Same doxxing laws apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” appearing to indicate that the limitations only applied to his private flight.
In another brief appearance, Musk spoke on a Twitter Spaces discussion moderated by Katie Notopoulos of BuzzFeed, saying that doxxing actions by journalists will result in their expulsion. Musk claimed the blacklisted journalists had access to his address, which is simply untrue. Musk abruptly exited the Twitter Spaces conversation when reporters sought to follow up with him.
Independent writer Aaron Rupar, who formerly worked for Vox, told Gizmodo that Twitter gave him no justification for his suspension.
“I would appreciate it if Twitter tried to provide some justification for this. Being blocked off from Twitter, which is obviously a large, huge portion of my audience, really sucks for me as an independent journalist, Rupar told Gizmodo via email.
Gizmodo was unable to reach Twitter’s communications department, but Ella Irwin, the company’s head of trust and safety, allegedly warned Alex Heath of the Verge that these accounts were putting users “at risk.”
Irwin told the Verge, “Without commenting on any specific accounts, I can confirm that we will suspend any accounts that break our privacy regulations and endanger other users.
The journalists that have been suspended are listed below; Gizmodo will update this list as we learn more:
Tom Binder (Mashable)
Dwight Harwell (Washington Post)
Robert Herman (VOA News)
The News Is Going Down (Independent Site)
Mouse Lee (The Intercept)
Mac Ryan (New York Times)
Mastadon (Social Media Site) (Social Media Site)
Richard Olbermann (formerly MSNBC)
O’Sullivan, Donie (CNN)
Webster, Tony (Minnesota Reformer)
Curiously, Matt Binder was suspended on Thursday night but still managed to participate in a Twitter Spaces discussion with journalists. According to Binder, he is unable to access his alerts, direct messages, or tweet, but he is able to converse in a Twitter Space. According to Binder, he received notice that his account is indefinitely set to read-only status.
The 20-year-old Florida college student who oversaw the ElonJet account, Jack Sweeney, also participated in the Twitter Spaces conversation with journalists. Sweeney hypothesised that the LAPD had refused to make a police complaint on an incident involving someone who was allegedly following Musk’s 2-year-old child because CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan had contacted them.
“I believe that Donie O’Sullivan is where it all began. He placed that item where they claimed they had not filed a police complaint, according to Sweeney.
The Notopoulos-hosted Twitter Spaces discussion continued after Musk exited the chat, but it appears to have been terminated as Notopoulos was in the middle of a sentence on Friday at 12:13 a.m. ET.
Although Musk has referred to himself as a “free speech absolutist,” Twitter’s policies have never been more stringent than they are now that he is in charge. These days, it seems that only literal neo-Nazis, far-right insurrectionists, and bigots against Muslims are given free rein on the platform.
Those who have been rehired since Musk assumed charge, to name a few:
Alaskan Baked (neo-Nazi, real name Tim Gionet)
Anglin, Andrew (founder of the Daily Stormer neo-Nazi site)
Ingrid Loomer (anti-Muslim bigot)
Stone, Roger (former Trump advisor, professional ratfucker)
The New York Times issued a statement on Twitter, calling the suspension of a number of notable journalists’ Twitter accounts earlier this evening “questionable” and “unfortunate.”
“Neither The Times nor Ryan have heard any justification for what happened. We hope that Twitter provide a satisfactory justification for this decision and that all of the journalists’ accounts are restored,” the Times continued.
Musk set up a Twitter vote on whether and when to allow the journalists who were suspended for tweeting about the ElonJets account to work again. However, Musk evidently didn’t like that outcome when his initial poll revealed that the majority of people wanted the journalists to be reinstated “immediately.”
Musk tweeted, “Sorry, too many alternatives, will redo the poll.”
Naturally, Musk will ignore the results of his latest poll until he finds the solution he’s looking for. But performing it is a really strange dance. Everyone is aware that Twitter no longer has clear standards, only the whims of a billionaire. Musk, though, seems to require confirmation that the path he is taking is well-liked by others and that he himself is.
And until he finally receives that approval, he’ll keep doing it—banning journalists and inventing odd rules after the fact to defend his choice. Sadly, it will never be sufficient for him.
Updated at 11:10 p.m. ET to include involvement in a Twitter Spaces discussion by Matt Binder and Jack Sweeney.
Elon Musk’s remarks in a Twitter Spaces discussion were included to the update at 11:50 p.m. ET.
Updated at 12:15 a.m. ET on Friday to reflect Musk’s alleged termination of the journalists’ Twitter Spaces chat.