Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, made a significant effort to use his unilateral authority over the network to censor speech on Thursday evening when he abruptly blocked the accounts of several prominent journalists from leading news organizations.
The accounts of Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, and other journalists who have actively covered Musk in recent weeks have all been abruptly and permanently suspended. Additionally blocked was the account of progressive, independent journalist Aaron Rupar.
A request for comment on Thursday evening was not answered by Musk or Twitter, and the expulsion of the journalists from the network was not made clear by the platform. The journalists, according to Musk, had shared his live location, which amounted to what he called “assassination coordinates,” in violation of his new “doxxing” policy. CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan did not disclose the billionaire’s live location.
Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan posted on Twitter that the social media platform had suspended the account of Mastodon, an up-and-coming rival social media platform, allowing @ElonJet, a bill that updates the location of Musk’s private jet, to continue tweeting. Other journalists were suspended. Recently, Thursday had written about the incident.
Doxxing publicly discloses a person’s home address or other private information online. Instead, the banned user had tracked Musk’s plane using openly accessible flight data that is still available online. The restrictions raise several concerns about the platform’s future, which has been dubbed a “digital town square.” Musk’s censorship of journalists raised serious concerns about his alleged support for free speech.
Musk has repeatedly stated that he wants to allow all legitimate expression on the platform. He had tweeted: “I hope that even my toughest opponents remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means” in April, the same day he revealed he would buy Twitter. According to a CNN representative, the corporation has questioned Twitter and will “reevaluate our partnership based on that response.”
“It is alarming but not unexpected that several reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, were abruptly and unjustifiably suspended. Everyone who uses Twitter should be highly concerned about Twitter’s growing instability and volatility, the representative said.
The bulk bans were described as “questionable and unfortunate” by a New York Times spokesman, who also stated that neither the paper nor Ryan had explained what had happened. We anticipate that Twitter will reinstate all journalists’ accounts and provide a convincing justification for its decision.
Harwell told CNN on Thursday that Elon “claims to be a champion of free speech and he is banning journalists for exercising free speech.” “I believe that raises concerns about his commitment.” Rupar concurred that he had heard “nothing” regarding the suspension from Twitter.
The head of the American Civil Liberties Union said: “It’s impossible to reconcile Twitter’s free speech objectives with the deleting of critical journalists’ accounts.” Several organizations criticized Twitter’s move. The suspensions “affect all journalists,” according to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) president, who also expressed concern about them in a statement.
Flight Tracking Controversy
After Twitter announced new rules barring accounts that track users’ real-time whereabouts, the @ElonJet account, which had accumulated more than 500,000 followers, was permanently suspended on Wednesday. Musk also deleted any accounts that included links to such data. Before now, Twitter had no limitations regarding location sharing.
The modifications followed Musk’s decision to reinstate past Twitter policy violators and cease enforcing the restrictions on Covid-19 disinformation. O’Sullivan told CNN on Thursday after his account was blocked, “I do believe this is very important for the potential chilling impact this can have for freelance journalists, independent journalists throughout the world, particularly those who cover Elon Musk’s other firms, like Tesla and SpaceX.”
Some Twitter users said the site had started interfering when they attempted to post links to their profiles on competing social networks, such as Mastodon, as the uproar over the account bans grew. A CNN reporter prevented from sharing a Mastodon profile URL and received an automatic error message stating that Twitter or its partners had deemed the site to be “possibly dangerous” on Thursday evening confirmed those rumors.
Please stay connected with us on Lee Daily.com for more articles and recent news.