Funny night on Twitter. The social network has banned nearly a dozen journalists from major American media such as the New York Times, CNN, the washington post or The Intercept. Their common point? They cover with a critical eye the decisions and actions of Elon Musk, the new owner and leader of the platform since the end of October. Mastodon’s account, Twitter’s main competitor, also jumped.
Elon Musk’s private jet at the center of Twitter moderation
To justify this aggressive moderation, Elon Musk accuses banned accounts of doxxing, a practice of publicly revealing private information for malicious purposes. They are found guilty of having shared a link which gives in real time the movements of his private jet. The data of the overwhelming majority of commercial and private flights are, in fact, publicly accessible, and several sites such as FlightRadar aggregate them.
Elon Musk’s jet was not the only one to have a dedicated account, it was the case of those of several billionaires, including Bernard Arnault. It is from these accounts that a heated debate on business aviation was launched this summer in France. All are now banned.
Elon Musk embarks on a new moderation puzzle
Self-described as an absolute defender of freedom of expression, the businessman has assured many times that everything can be said, as long as the remarks do not derogate from the laws. He had also declared, on November 7, about the @ElonJet account that “ his commitment to freedom of expression extends to not banning the following account [son] plane, even if it is a direct risk for [sa] personal security. “By banishing @ElonJet, the billionaire therefore breaks with the doctrine advocated until then, even as he tries to overwhelm the old management on moderation issues through “Twitter files”.
Following this wave of banishments, Katie Notopoulos, journalist at buzzfeed, used Twitter’s Space feature to host a public chat with the banned journalists and the creator of @ElonJet. Elon Musk joined the discussion for just under three minutes. ” VSIt is not because you are journalists that you are going to get special treatment. You doxx, you get suspended “, he said. Relaunched on the inconsistencies of his moderation policy, the leader stammered, then abruptly left the Twitter Space.
Elon Musk says his life is in danger
To emphasize the need to ban @ElonJet, Elon Musk wrote than a car carrying one of his children, X or X Æ A-12 of his full name, was followed by a stalker, who then prevented the vehicle from moving forward and climbed onto the hood. He also claims to be taking legal action against Jack Sweeney and ” organizations that cause harm to my family. He then posted a short video showing a masked and hooded individual driving a car with the license plate visible. ” Does anyone recognize this person or car? asks the billionaire to his 120 million subscribers. Ironically, this post from Elon Musk could be called doxxing. The billionaire’s words could not be verified and Bellingcat demonstrated that the video was taken in Los Angeles, far from any airport.
This is not the first time that the businessman has confided his concerns for his safety. In another messagehe explained that the banned accounts were banned because ” they shared [sa] real-time exact location, basically assassination coordinates. This declaration had moreover challenged influential Democrat Alexandra Ocasio-Cortezwho had called him to ” take a break and put the phone down to calm the attention around him, to which he replied, ” you first “.
To conclude this strange episode, Elon Musk launched a poll so that Twitter users decide on the duration of suspension of the accounts concerned. They can be reinstated: now, the next day, in 7 days, or in ” Longer “. He had already used this method to justify the reinstatement of Donald Trump’s account, even though the platform’s polls are easy to manipulate. Result: the option ” now won, with 43% of the vote, but Musk decided to do another poll because the first “ had too many options “. The latter extends until this night, and for now, the option ” now wins again. It remains to be seen that Elon Musk will once again comply with this voting method.