Elon Musk is showing he doesn’t care about free speech as much as he claims, with Twitter banning critical journalists and links to competitor Mastodon.
Musk purchased Twitter on the promise of respecting free speech and has rolled back many of the content moderation measures that were in place. It appears the CEO is only concerned with free speech that’s not critical of him, however, as leading journalists have been banned for no apparent reason other than being critical of Musk and Twitter’s actions.
According to The New York Times, Ryan Mac of The New York Times; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; independent journalist Aaron Rupar; Donie O’Sullivan of CNN; Matt Binder of Mashable; independent journalist Tony Webster; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and political journalist Keith Olbermann all had their accounts suspended. No reason was given other than a notice on their Twitter profiles that says the accounts “violate the Twitter rules.”
Exactly what rules these accounts violated, however, is up for debate. Some of them covered the @ElonJet account, which tracked Musk’s jet using publicly available information. Musk had previously said he would not ban the account before reversing course and banning it Wednesday. Other journalists merely wrote articles critical of some of Musk’s decisions.
The bans were met with widespread criticism from other journalists, the tech industry, and politicians alike.
The gall of @elonmusk to ban respectable journalists doing important work from his platform while parading as some sort of champion of free speech is, quite frankly, detestable,” tweeted Representative Yvette Clarke. “I’d ask if he feels any shame, but meaningful self-reflection may simply be beyond his capacity.”
Similarly, Twitter users are reporting problems posting links to their Mastodon accounts, one of Twitter’s main competitors. When trying to post links to their Mastodon accounts, users are being met with a message stating the following:
“Your Tweet couldn’t be sent because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to learn more.”
For someone who is a self-proclaimed champion of free speech, Musk is proving to be more of a foe than a champion, with his tenure as Twitter’s owner taking a decidedly draconian turn.