Saturday, July 13, 2024
HomeEditors Picks'Suspension of journalists disturbing but not surprising' - Elon Musk backlash grows...

‘Suspension of journalists disturbing but not surprising’ – Elon Musk backlash grows (summary of events)

Twitter's suspension of close to a dozen top journalists is 'disturbing but not surprising', lawmakers say as Elon Musk's latest decision sparks growing backlash around the world. Below is a summary of events leading to the growing Twitter backlash as they continue to unfold.

Twitter boss Elon Musk faces growing backlash from lawmakers and observers worldwide, with threats of heavy fines and sanctions after he suspended close to a dozen of prominent journalists on Thursday without explanation. Here’s a summary of events that led to the growing backlash:

  • Twitter suspended late Thursday the accounts of prominent journalists who have been critically covering the latest moves of CEO Elon Musk since his takeover. Suspended accounts include that of Ryan Mac (The New York Times), Donie O’Sullivan (CNN), Drew Harwell (The Washington Post), Matt Binder (Mashable), Micah Lee (The Intercept), Steve Herman (Voice of America) and independent journalists, Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster.
  • Notably, Binder, a prominent tech reporter at Mashable was reportedly suspended after he tweeted a screenshot from another suspended reporter (O’Sullivan’s account), of a Los Angeles Police Department statement refuting Musk’s earlier claims that his family was being stalked during an outing, blaming it on the highly-publicised doxxing of his private jet.
  • Another suspended journalist Linette Lopez is known to have reported for years about Musk’s dubious business practices at Tesla. Her sources, according to a 2019 citation by Bloomberg, were previously targeted by private spies reportedly hired by Musk.
  • The suspension comes after Musk announced he will be suspending or banning users sharing real time information on individuals location, notably the tracking of his own flight data.
  • Responding to a tweet from Mike Solana, vice president of the venture capital firm Founders Fund, who highlighted that the suspended accounts had posted links to jet trackers on other websites, Musk said the suspended journalists violated Twitter’s new rules banning private jet trackers, adding that the suspensions would last seven days.
  • Interestingly, Twitter’s direct competitor, Mastodon’s account has too been suspended, and coincidentally users who a link to O’Sullivan’s Mastodon account, where he has a video of a CNN piece explaining his own suspension, a message pops up stating their tweet couldn’t be sent as it maybe harmful. As the result, Twitter is now marking all links to its competitor Mastodon unsafe – as highlighted by Ireland’s current affairs journalit and Virgin Media News political correspondent, Gavan Reilly, in the Twitter screenshot below.
Screenshot: Gavan Reilly’s Twitter.
  • In another surprising move, just hours following the suspensions, Musk – whose Twitter takeover and the subsequent $8 bluecheck subscription service has been marred by one controversy after the other – joined a Twitter Space discussion to explain himself, saying the suspensions were related to new rules banning private jet trackers. This came after Twitter suspended an account of the notorious 20-year old Florida college student, Jack Sweeney, who created the Twitter account that tracked Musk’s jet, and subsequently tweeted his whereabouts.
  • To his surprise, Musk found himself having to face-off with some of the banned journalists who found a backdoor onto the Twitter Space discussion through the website’s audio function.
  • Musk came on as a speaker and stated the Twitter policy. “Journalists are no different than any other Twitter user. You doxx, you get suspended. End of story. That’s it,” he said, before he abruptly left the discussion.
  • Surprisingly, Sweeney, who created Musk’s jet tracking Twitter account, was also able to join the discussion despite his account’s suspension. Shortly after this, the Twitter’s Spaces feature was abruptly disabled worldwide, with Musk later tweeting, “we’re fixing a Legacy bug. Should be working tomorrow.”
  • In yet another sinister move that would lead to several tumultuous days building-up to this bizarre developments, Musk suspended the creator of the @ElonJet account – that tracked his jet – before later threatening legal action against him. After this, he claimed, with no backing whatsoever, that a “stalker” confronted a car carrying his child in Los Angeles on Tuesday.  
  • Just as the backlash was gaining momentum, Musk put up a poll asking whether he should reinstate the journalists’ accounts or not. When majority of voters responded otherwise, arguing he should restore the accounts immediately, he deleted the poll and started a new one with few options.
  • As expected, several lawmakers and media experts have condemned Musk’s latest decision, with Sally Buzbee, executive editor of The Washington Post, as per this NBC News article, saying it directly undermine Musk’s earlier claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.
  • “Press freedom cannot be switched on and off on a whim,” German Foreign Office said in a tweet accompanied by screenshots of the accounts of journalists suspended by Twitter, telling the social media platform this was unacceptable.
  • While it’s not that surprising that Musk will resort to banning those criticising him on Twitter, given his similar past moves, not mention reports of having reportedly fired 80% of Twitter workforce upon his takeover, the Vice President of the European Union declares Musk’s suspensions of journalists’ accounts as disturbing and has notified him he will soon face legal sanctions in the EU.
  • As more Twitter boycotts loom from world’s leading media houses and lawmakers alike, CNN has responded to the suspension of the reporters in question, including one of their own,  O’Sullivan, which they describe as “impulsive and unjustified, but not surprising. “Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter,” the broadcaster said in a statement to Variety. “We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments