Elon Musk used to call himself a free speech absolutist but since making that over-hyped claim, he’s been backtracking, adding more and more exceptions to what free speech means to him. From banning comedians making parodies of him on Twitter to banning newly-verified accounts that parodied companies. And remember that this came after he tweeted that “comedy is now legal on Twitter”. The pretense of his commitment to absolute free speech has come to the end of the road, with Musk banning the accounts of journalists that have either criticized him or investigated him.
This journalistic purge began with the suspension of ElonJet and its creator Jack Sweeney. ElonJet would tweet the position of Musk’s private jet, information that is publicly available. Musk said that the account put him and his family at risk and claimed that somebody stalked his child using it. Investigative journalism group Bellingcat found no evidence that would link the stalker to an airport and police could not confirm a report was filed about the event.
Musk repeated the accusation about Elonjet and also suspended journalists and organizations covering the story, which included IGD News, Aaron Rupar, Donie O’Sullivan, Drew Harwell, Matt Binder, Ryan Mac, Micah Lee, Keith Olbermann. “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not,” the billionaire tweeted on Thursday.
Musk then entered a Twitter Space with journalists and claimed that they were doxxing him – that means revealing your personal information online. But, Drew Harwell pointed out, they simply linked the ElonJet account (which is also now suspended). Musk doubled down on the baseless doxxing claim and in a tantrum, exited the Space. Then all Twitter Spaces were taken offline to “fix an old bug”, according to Musk.
He then conducted a poll asking when the suspended accounts should be reinstated. He has previously left major safety decisions to a Twitter poll. When the poll didn't produce the answer he wanted, he ran it again.
Musk laughed about journalists overreacting to their suspensions but Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency in the European Union, took this attack on the freedom of the Press very seriously.
"News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying. EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon," Jourová said on Twitter.
Many have highlighted the hypocrisy coming from Musk on the real-time location debacle. Under Musk's reign on Twitter, far-right accounts have been sharing the locations of LGBTQ+ run events while engaging in stochastic terrorism – demonizing LGBTQ+ people as pedophiles with the expectations of violent attacks against them. The Club Q massacre of November 19, the bomb threats against Boston Children’s Hospital, and the targeted harassment of Drag Queen Story Hours across the US and UK are some examples of the consequences of this.
Musk has also suspended the main Mastodon Twitter account. The platform is seen by many as the likely successor to Twitter. Any link from Mastodon can’t be posted on Twitter under the false claim that it is malware. Musk had previously criticized the ability of Twitter to stop links in relation to the Hunter Biden hacked laptop story.
This is not the only spurious Twitter claim this week. Musk has also claimed that they had fixed the "Bot Problem" and a woman cleverly showed that this was not true by simply tweeting the words “sugar daddy” to then be inundated by bots.
Musk has also threatened public health figures such as Anthony Fauci, earning the praises of far-right conspiracy theory cult QAnon.