On the eve of 15th December 2022, Twitter deactivated the accounts of numerous distinguished journalists who often report on Elon Musk and his newly-acquired platform. Musk’s recent purchase of the company further elevated his rank among the richest and most successful in the world.
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What Went Down?
In response to another tweet, Musk tweeted the following, which pretty much explains what had happened.
Additionally, responding to Founders Fund’s Mike Solana, he stated that Twitter now has new rules which ban accounts that track private jets. Solana, however, said that the jet-tracking links were shared on other websites.
Though the Space X founder made countless accusations, including one claiming that his real-time coordinates being shared was basically like having a bounty on his head. NBC News says that all allegations have not yet been verified.
It is also noteworthy that earlier in November 2022, Musk tweeted that he would not be banning the account that tracks his jet. So, naturally, people can’t help but wonder about the reason behind this sudden change of heart.
For now, reports suggest that these account deactivations are going to be temporary.
There’s Always A Backdoor
A senior journalist made his way into a Twitter Space where Musk was also a speaker only hours after the deactivation. The audio discussion had over 30,000 listeners witnessing the face-off between said journalist and Musk. The entrepreneur, however, capped his dialogue by saying that doxxing – or sharing someone’s private information online – will result in deactivation. This is one of Twitter’s latest policies, he added.
Prior to the argument breaking out, the discussion was largely on the numerous journalists whose accounts had been deactivated. As of Thursday evening, freelance journalist Keith Olbermann, Tony Webster, Aaron Ruper, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, Mashable’s Matt Binder, CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, The Intercept’s Micah Lee, Voice of America’s Steve Herman, and The New York Times’ Ryan Mac are all amongst the journalists who lost their accounts.
Despite the deactivation of his Twitter account, Florida university student Jack Sweeney, who owned the account that documented Musk's jet, was also able to participate in the discussion. The Twitter Space was shut down abruptly after Musk exited.
Musk had previously posted a poll with several choices asking whether or not he should bring back the journalists' accounts. When a majority of those polled to reactivate the suspended accounts immediately, he removed the poll and created another one with limited options.
No Trust or Safety
Only three days prior to the deactivations, Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council was also scratched. As per its policy, the council consisting of 100 human, civil rights, and various organizations was scheduled to meet on 12th December. However, an unexpected email informed its constituents of the committee’s disbanding. Several committee members took to sharing the email after the AP vowed confidentiality and anonymity.