Freedom of expression was to be the cornerstone in charge of sustaining the Twitter 2.0 of Elon Musk. At least, that’s what the businessman claimed. In the last hours of Thursday, the social network proceeded to block the accounts of a half dozen journalists belonging to some of the main media outlets in the United States, including ‘The New York Times’, ‘CNN’, ‘The Washington Post ‘, ‘Intercept’ and ‘Mashable’.
According to the platform, they would have violated the rules of the social network after allegedly having violated the terms of the platform by revealing personal information about tycoon Elon Musk.
The punishment against journalists, critical of Musk and his way of running the social network, comes just 24 hours after the social network prohibited the publication of content that helps locate a person in real time. This caused the famous account ElonJet, controlled by the student Jack Sweeney and dedicated to recording the movements of the magnate’s personal plane, was suspended. This platform continues to work on other social networks, such as Instagram.
According to US media, the journalists who lost their slots due to the platform’s new policy had written about or tweeted about accounts dedicated to tracking private planes. This would have been the trigger for the suspension. Criticizing me all day is fine, but posting my locations in real time and endanger my family it is not, “said the owner of the platform in a tweet in which he tried to justify the measure.
“If someone posted real-time locations and addresses of NYT reporters, the FBI would be investigating, there would be hearings on Capitol Hill, and Biden would give speeches about the end of democracy!” the magnate said in another message.
After proceeding with the blockade, the tycoon has launched one of his typical surveys. In it, he questioned his followers about how to proceed with the accounts of those affected by allegedly sharing information about their location. After suspending the first vote, he launched a second in which the option of returning the accounts immediately is gaining widely. Specifically, with close to 60% of the total votes.
Among the accounts that have been affected by the new policy is also that of the alternative application to Twitter Mastodon, which has experienced a significant uptick in the number of users since Musk took control of the social network. According to the specialized media ‘The Verge’, the account published a link to be able to continue consulting ElonJet’s movements through this platform.
As ABC has been able to verify, currently Twitter does not allow sharing links within it that lead to Mastodon.
Unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
“Although it seems to us that these platforms are a public service, they are private companies that can adopt regulations in many cases according to the whims of their owners. No one guarantees the survival of our accounts. The measure is capricious, but we are subject to the wishes of whoever manages the social network, “explains Ferran Lalueza, professor of Communication at the Universidad Oberta and expert in social networks, in conversation with ABC.
Indeed, these prohibitions raise a series of questions about the future of Twitter, since after its acquisition by the billionaire at the beginning of November, the ‘app’ has shared its aspirations to defend freedom of expressioneven going so far as to unlock the account of former United States President Donald Trump, which had been blocked since the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Just a month ago, the tycoon shared a tweet in which he stated that he did not plan to take action against accounts that shared information about the real-time location of third parties, since he considered it within freedom of expression.
My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
“My commitment to freedom of expression even extends to not banning the account that follows my plane, although that is a direct risk to personal safety,” said the owner of the ‘app’ and companies like Tesla or SpaceX.
Everything changed last Wednesday, when Musk confirmed via Twitter that a stranger had been following a car inside which his son was thinking that it was the businessman who was inside.
«Musk is a character who plays a lot with his ability to attract attention so that we do not forget that Twitter is there. I don’t think it’s so much a strategy, just the character is like that and he owns a platform that has millions of users around the world. He is an explosive cocktail », points out Lalueza.
During the last days, the tycoon has made other controversial decisions. He has struck down Twitter’s moderation council, made up of outside experts who were dedicated to advising the platform on content moderation and policy. Likewise, ‘The New York Times’ shared that the application of the little bird has not paid the rent for its headquarters and the rest of the offices for weeks. He has also made changes to his legal team.