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Love him or hate him, watching Elon Musk has proven to be very entertaining ever since he began his quest to own Twitter. Now that he’s the big boss, he has been flexing his CEO muscles far more often than some of us expected. The latest iteration came when he suspended prominent leftist journalists on Thursday, only to return their accounts late Friday night.
The details are below in an article by Tom Ozimek from our premium news partners at The Epoch Times, but I first wanted to explain why all of this happened. It seems that the vast majority of commentators (all of the ones I’ve read or heard so far) are completely missing the point of Musk’s actions. To truly understand them, we have to stipulate that Musk plays the role of whimsical billionaire when in reality he plans his moves out very carefully and well ahead of time.
For example, if you ask your average Twitter user how Musk came to the conclusion that he wanted to buy Twitter, they’ll tell you that was upset over the suspension of the Babylon Bee Twitter account. They’ll say that he Tweeted out a question to his many fans about what should be done, then based on the overwhelming number of responses calling on him to just buy Twitter, he did.
It’s a great story. The problem with it that most seem to miss is that he filed with the SEC to purchase 9% of Twitter two weeks BEFORE his famous inquiring Tweet. He already had his plan in motion before staging a whimsical move based on reactions from his fans. This is how Musk operates. By the time he starts asking questions on Twitter to get feedback from the people, his decisions had already been made.
Fast forward to the banning of journalists for doxxing and we’re seeing the exact same maneuver. Supposedly he was tired of getting doxxed so he took action against them. But in reality none of the journalists who were suspended were any more involved with doxxing him than any average joe who retweeted posts from his many stalkers.
The doxxing excuse was just a ploy. So too was the poll he posted asking when he should unsuspend the accounts, a poll that allegedly prompted their reinstatement. Here’s how he’s framing it:
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The people have spoken.
Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now. https://t.co/MFdXbEQFCe
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2022
By doing it like this, he feigned a democratic feel to his site. “The people have spoken,” he posted, sending the message that he will go against his own decisions if the majority disagrees with him on Twitter’s very unscientific and easily manipulable polls. That’s ludicrous.
In reality, his plan since long before the suspensions was to update a rule about doxxing, suspend prominent journalists temporarily, throw up a poll, then unsuspend them. As he expected, the outrage over the suspensions prompted rebukes from media outlets as well as governments across the globe. Also as he expected, it was a major topic on pretty much every corporate media outlet in the English-speaking world.
He accomplished two missions with his move. The obvious one is that he and his company are getting the type of massive free publicity we haven’t seen since the 2016 Republican primary season when every move Donald Trump made was national news every day. Between the Twitter Files FBI bombshell and this move to suspend journalists for a day, he put a huge strain on his servers because of the masses of people hitting the site. That’s important because he will demonstrate soon once enough statistics are collected that since he bought Twitter, traffic to the site and the apps skyrocketed.
The second mission is less obvious but clearly more important to him. Even though most of the accounts have been reinstated after a very short suspension (I’ve been suspended for seven days before over Tweets that DIDN’T doxx him or anyone else), the message he sent was crystal clear: Journalists do not get free rein just because they’re journalists. They will be held accountable for their Tweets.
Prior to Thursday, corporate media journalists felt they could say pretty much anything on Twitter, truth and the law be damned. Now, they’re still trying to come to grips with the new development that they aren’t going to be protected on Elon Musk’s Twitter.
Just as he had planned.
By no means am I suggesting Musk doesn’t really care about doxxing. Those who truly doxx him or anyone else will be removed from the platform. But the Rogue’s Gallery of leftist journalists didn’t really doxx anyone. They were suspended so Musk could make a few points, most notably that being a journalist in corporate media will not protect anyone on Musk’s Twitter.
Here’s the article from The Epoch Times detailing what is publicly acknowledged as how it all went down. As you read it, keep in mind that Musk manufactured the excuse to slap down journalists so he could accomplish his goals.
Elon Musk Reinstates Journalists’ Accounts Suspended for Doxxing Policy Violations
Elon Musk has reinstated journalists’ accounts that were earlier suspended for allegedly doxxing his location in real-time, with the temporary suspensions earning the Wikipedia monicker “Thursday Night Massacre” and fueling questions over press freedom on the platform.
After Twitter updated its policy prohibiting sharing people’s location in real-time—known as doxxing—due to personal safety risks, nine journalist’s accounts were suspended, according to an Epoch Times tally. As of the time of reporting, eight of those have been reactivated.
Musk announced the reinstatement in a post on Twitter after running a poll that asked users whether the suspended accounts should be restored “now” or “in 7 days.”
The majority of respondents voted for an immediate reinstatement of the suspended accounts.
“The people have spoken,” Musk said. “Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now.”
The accounts that were suspended belonged to CNN’s politics and tech correspondent Donie O’Sullivan (@donie), New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac (@rmac18), Washington Post technology reporter Drew Harwell (@drewharwell), Mashable tech reporter Matt Binder (@mattbinder), The Intercept tech reporter Micah Lee (@micahflee), Voice of America’s Chief National Correspondent Steve Herman (@w7voa), journalist Aaron Rupar (@atrupar), and sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann (@Keitholbermann).
As of the time of reporting, the only account that remained blocked was Olbermann’s.
Some of the journalists disputed the claim that they had exposed Musk’s location in real time in violation of Twitter’s new anti-doxxing policy.
‘Thursday Night Massacre’
Twitter’s suspension of the accounts came after Musk unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Twitter account @ElonJet to stop sharing private jet movements in real time—which he repeatedly said posed a risk to his safety—and after what he described as a “crazy stalker” climbed onto a car carrying his 2-year-old son.
The account suspensions came a day after Twitter announced changes to its Private Information policy—commonly referred to as its doxxing policy—prohibiting the sharing of real-time location information or linking to external sources that share such data, citing a “risk of physical harm.”
The doxxing policy states that any account sharing real-time location information of private individuals (with the exception of the user themselves) would receive a temporary suspension of unspecified duration. The second time they do so, their account will be permanently suspended.
In line with the new policy, the @ElonJet account was suspended, along with a number of accounts tracking the private jets of high-profile individuals, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Some of the journalists disputed Musk’s claim that they had doxxed his location.
“To be clear, there was no ‘doxing’–even if an impulsive, accountable-to-nobody oligarch said so,” Webster said in a tweet shortly after his account was restored.
Rupar wrote on Substack Thursday night that he has “no idea what rules I purportedly broke” and that he has not had contact with Twitter regarding the suspension of his account.
Rupar also noted that prior to his suspension, he had posted a tweet regarding the @ElonJet account that was suspended from Twitter, which he said was “still active on Facebook, with a link to the Facebook page.”
“Perhaps that did it, but I still don’t know what policy that could’ve possibly violated,” he wrote.
Most of the journalists had talked about the owner of the suspended @ElonJet account, Jack Sweeney, or linked to the jet-tracking account in some way.
Musk also announced that he would be taking “legal action” against Sweeney.
Sweeney did not respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
‘Basically Assassination Coordinates’
Some critics framed the suspensions as an attempt on Musk’s part to muzzle journalists who have been critical of him, though he insisted otherwise: “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”
“They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service,” Musk added.
“If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!” he continued.
The suspensions drew backlash from government officials, advocacy groups, and journalism organizations from across the globe, with some claiming Twitter was jeopardizing press freedom.
The United Nations and the European Union condemned the suspensions, and the episode even received its own Wikipedia entry, “Thursday Night Massacre.”
Vera Jourova, a European Commission vice president, wrote on Twitter that the alleged “arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying,” adding that an EU regulatory act “requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights.”
“This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that,” Jourova wrote. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”
Jourova did not elaborate on what sanctions she had in mind, though under the EU’s Digital Services Acted that she cited, companies can be fined 6 percent of their global annual revenues for breaches.
Twitter did not reply to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
‘Paparazzi, Stalkers, & Fans’
Hours before Musk threatened to take legal action against Sweeney, he responded to Jim Hall, a self-described Tesla and SpaceX enthusiast and investor, who argued that Sweeney had made it easier for “nutjobs” to find Musk and his family.
Hall shared a video of “paparazzi, stalkers, & fans” waiting for Musk outside an airport.
“The more the hate being drummed up online against Elon grows the larger the threat to Elon & his family grows. Imagine all the crazies at the extreme of both political sides targeting you nonstop,” Hall wrote.
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Musk responded, “Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are ok.”
Twitter users added context to Musk’s tweet, noting that publishing flight records “is protected under the First Amendment,” citing a related Supreme Court ruling.
The contextual note added, however, that “Twitter’s TOS prohibits sharing ‘information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless if this information is publicly available.’”
Bypass Big Tech Censors
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