A digital rights advocate told Fox News that Elon Musk’s recent actions, such as the banning of an account that tracked his private jet, suggest that the decisions behind Twitter’s ban were “completely arbitrary and capricious.”
“My first reaction is that this fits perfectly with what we’ve seen over the past few weeks, where suspension and ban decisions are entirely arbitrary and capricious,” said Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organisation, told Fox News.
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Wednesday, Musk suspends @ElonJet – a Twitter account that tracks the CEO’s private jet – and the personal account of the operator, Jack Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida. Musk had previously said he would keep the account active to promote free speech, but ultimately claimed it posed a threat to him and his family because it shared his real-time location.
McSherry said Wednesday that bans “will definitely continue to happen.” By Thursday night, several reporters had been suspended, including CNN reporter Dono Sullivan and New York Times reporter Ryan Mack.
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Musk, who bought Twitter for $44B in October, has tweeted that the @ElonJet account is putting his son at risk and that his support for Sweeney and others will hurt him The family’s organization took legal action.
“Elon Musk claims it’s a personal safety issue, but I don’t think that’s credible given that this is publicly available data,” McSherry said.
Musk defended his decision to ban reporters in a Twitter Spaces chat Thursday night with several reporters, including suspended Washington Post reporter Drew Harrell. The Twitter chief left the chatroom after being asked if the platform used the same tools he accused former company executives of using to suppress stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
“On the one hand, he and company are exercising their First Amendment rights, which they are allowed to do,” McSherry said between @elonjet and the reporter’s suspension. “On the other hand, I do think it’s inconsistent with some of the things he’s said about content moderation being critical.”
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Twitter and other social media platforms need to clarify “what their standards are for violence, harassment, safety, and then abide by those standards,” McSherry told Fox News.
“What this really underscores for everyone is something that we’ve been focusing on for a while now, which is the enormous concentration of power in online speech in the hands of a relatively small number of people,” McSherry continued. “I do think that’s dangerous for speech as a whole because it means they do have a lot of power to shape speech.”
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Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
To learn more from McSherry about the influence social media executives have on online speech, click here.