Get off my open-speech platform you swarmy tattletales!
Well, this is slightly terrifying, if not the death knoll for Twitter (btw, we encourage everyone to follow our other social media accounts in case Elon Musk turns his wrath against us next). The cancellations came with no warning nor explanation other than a cryptic tweet from the head wingnut:
“Same doxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.”
Elon Musk had previously purged the Twitter @ElonJet account for an app that tracked Musk’s private jet, a billionaire’s playtoy, 22-seat, 2-engine 2015 Gulfstream G650ER (N628TS). It was an odd turn of events given the brittle little baby’s flight data is available online and easy to track with any readily-available ADS-B flight tracker (until Musk requests flight trackers not make his information publicly available which he appears to be doing as this is being written).
Who did Elon Musk suspend from Twitter?
Among those Twitface suspended from his platform were former MSNBC and ESPN host Keith Olbermann, and CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan. Other journalists, including tech reporters critical of Musk, suspended on Thursday included New York Times reporter Ryan Mac, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell, Matt Binder of Mashable, and freelance journalist Aaron Rupar. Some were known to be critical of Musk and at least one had tweeted a link to a Mastadon Social account that tracked Musk’s private jet.
A CNN rep tweeted:
“The impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising. Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Musk, who acquired Twitter in October, had justified his purchase based on the idea that he would return “free speech” to Twitter. However, after the accounts were banned, the New York Times reported:
“Since taking over Twitter, Mr. Musk has gone back and forth on deciding what content and accounts should and should not be on the platform. He initially said he would form a council to make decisions on content moderation but then abandoned those plans. He also welcomed back the account of former President Donald J. Trump and declared an amnesty for people, including white nationalists, who had been suspended from Twitter for violating its rules on hate speech or incitement to violence.”
And no Mastodon followers either!
Some accounts related to the Mastodon social media platform were also suspended. Mastodon launched in 2016 but gained widespread attention after Musk’s acquisition of Twitter as a potential alternative for those abandoning Twitter. Mastodon’s network runs off a radically different model from Twitter’s, though, as users sign up for on different self-hosted networking servers which makes the process somewhat restrictive, and confusing. Mastodon is free and open-source software however.
Each user is a member of a specific Mastodon instance (also called a server), which can interoperate as a federated social network, allowing users on different instances to interact with each other. This is intended to give users the flexibility to select a node whose policies they prefer but keep access to a larger social network. Mastodon is also part of the Fediverse ensemble of server platforms, which use shared protocols allowing users to also interact with users on other compatible platforms, such as PeerTube and Friendica. Mastodon is crowdfunded and does not contain ads.
The public speaks out
Shortly after the suspensions, Musk asked Twitter users when he should “unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time”. Musk posted two versions of the poll, one offering multiple options as to when suspensions could be lifted and another offering just two (“now” or “in 7 days”). Musk ended the broader poll after only a few hours, which he said was because it had “too many options.” It attracted more than 535,000 votes in that time.
“Now” was the most popular, attracting 43% of the vote, narrowly trailed by those preferring a suspension of “longer” than seven days. The slimmed down version of the poll is still live. As of writing, more than 2.6 million people have voted, and it is live for another 18 hours. “Now” leads with roughly 60% of the vote.