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OPINION | Elon Musk censors the press


Musk has touted that he is a free-speech maximalist, but his recent banning of several journalists indicates otherwise.

5 things: Elon Musk justifies blocking journalists on the social network Twitter 2:46

New York (CNN) -- 

Elon Musk is no free speech advocate.

Twitter's touchy new owner on Thursday banned the accounts of several senior journalists from the country's top news organizations, including: CNN's Donie O'Sullivan;

Ryan Mac of The New York Times;

and Drew Harwell of The Washington Post.

Progressive journalist Aaron Rupar and pundit Keith Olbermann were also banned from the platform.

Musk did not respond to my email seeking comment.

But he appeared to claim that the sanctioned accounts had violated his new "doxing" policy and shared what he claimed amounted to "murder coordinates" against him, though none of the journalists had, of course, done any such thing.

O'Sullivan, Mac and Harwell had recently reported on the blocking of @ElonJet, the account that posted real-time updates on the whereabouts of Musk's private jet.

But that is very different from doxing against him.

  • Elon Musk's Twitter suspends journalist accounts from CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post

What all the journalists had in common was their tenacity to report aggressively on the billionaire or criticize him in comments, and to do so on Twitter.

There is no doubt that these bans will serve to chill free speech, not only for those reporting on Twitter, but also for those reporting on other Musk companies, such as Tesla and SpaceX.

The bans also raise a number of serious questions about the future of press freedom on Twitter, a platform that has been referred to as a digital "public square."

Will the media stay on the platform as Musk rushes to ban his reporters without explanation?

Will they remove the journalists from him?

Its contents?

And what will big advertisers like Apple and Amazon do?

As Nate Silver wrote, "News organizations like The New York Times already had mixed feelings about their reporters' use of Twitter, and if they can now suspend you from Twitter for doing fairly simple reporting, you have to wonder if that's The inflection point".

CNN said in a statement that his future at Twitter is up in the air.

"The impulsive and unwarranted suspension of several reporters, including CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising," a spokesperson said.

"Twitter's increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern to everyone who uses Twitter. We have asked Twitter for an explanation and will re-evaluate our relationship based on that response."

For its part, The New York Times stated in a separate statement: "Tonight's suspension of the Twitter accounts of several prominent journalists, including Ryan Mac of The New York Times, is questionable and unfortunate. Neither the newspaper nor Ryan have received any explanation as to why. We hope that all journalists' accounts will be reinstated and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this measure."

The executive editor of The Washington Post, Sally Buzbee, stated: "The suspension of Drew Harwell's Twitter account directly undermines Elon Musk's claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free expression. Harwell was banned from Twitter without notice, process or explanation, following the publication of his accurate information about Musk. Our journalist must be reinstated immediately."

The bans also show Musk's failure to come even close to his supposed commitment to free speech.

Musk has touted that he is a free speech maximalist and has repeatedly said that he would like to allow all legal speech.

"I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter because that's what free speech is all about," Musk once tweeted.

Today those words ring very empty.

As Harwell told me, "Elon says he's a free speech advocate and is banning journalists from exercising free speech. I think that calls into question his commitment."

It will be interesting -- and revealing -- to see if some of Musk's supporters in the right-wing media, who have celebrated him for his pro-free speech rhetoric, speak out against these bans.

After all, isn't Musk now the villain of censorship?

CensorshipElon MuskTwitter

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-12-16

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