After his “Thursday night massacre” on Twitter, Elon Musk is being criticized from all sides
The “Thursday night massacre”: this is their nickname, by a reputable computer security researcher, the unusual events (so far) that took place on the night of Thursday, December 15 on Twitter. It all started with a dozen top American journalists – writing for outlets like New York TimesThe Washington post, CNN where The Barrier – found that their accounts had been suspended. Without notice or explanation.
“I got suspended from Twitter yesterday”, wrote Michée Lee on the investigation site The Barrier where he explains in detail the chronology of events. He was only punished for tweeting about the fact that Elon Musk has suspended the Twitter account of Mastodon, his main competitor in the micro-blogging business, where millions of stubborn people have gone into exile in recent weeks. billionaire philosophy. This non-profit platform just tweeted, before it was deleted “Did you know ? You can follow @ElonJet on Mastodon in”, because there was hidden in this account where the scandal happened.
A jet, a car and an elusive stalker
ElonJet is an account (formerly on Twitter, now on Mastodon and, ironically, on Truth Social, Donald Trump’s social network) that uses public data to provide the real-time position of Elon Musk’s private jet. The latter got upset with it a few months ago, even tried to buy it back from its young owner, “a 20-year-old student named Jack Sweeney, for $5,000”, as Donnie Sullivan, the political and technology journalist of CNNalso victim ofThursday Night Massacre” (maybe because of this article).
Faced with the latter’s rejection, the new owner of Twitter decided on Wednesday to suspend his account and change the rules of the platform, which prohibits “doxxing”, or the fact of disclosing an individual’s personal information.
Sweeney has “published my exact location in real time, i.e. the coordinates that killed me”, Musk accusedbefore explaining that “crazy stalker” followed the car in which his son X was riding from the airport. But, as mentioned by Everyday Animalsciting the work of an online investigative journalist working for Bellingcat, Musk has not provided the slightest proof of these accusations, nor has he filed a complaint; as for the video he posted to support his claims, its geolocation proves it was not taken anywhere near the airport.
In other words, there is no definitive link between the @ElonJet account and the hypothetical stalker, because “Following a car is very different from following an airplane”. It could also all be done to justify the decision to delete the account of Jack Sweeney and all those who complained about this censorship.
Sanctions, “coming soon”?
Critics soon came after the daily newsletter The Atlantic qualify for “monstrous whim”. On Friday, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said himself “very problematic” by the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter, reports the Qatari channel Al Jazeera. “This decision sets a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists around the world face censorship, physical threats and worse”, said Dujarric. In the United States, Democratic Oregon Senator Ron Wyden came to the defense of banned journalists, saying that at this rate Musk will quickly make Twitter “out of date”.
European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourová, whose mandate includes the rule of law and disinformation, tweeted that “The EU Digital Services Act requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced by our #MediaFreedomAct.” He also promisedpenalties, as soon as possible” if Elon Musk continues to cross the “red lines”.
The Washington post points out that the law on digital services of the European Union, called DSA (Digital Service Act) will oblige, from its entry into force in 2024, companies in the digital industry “more aggressively control illegal content on their platforms and be more transparent about how their moderation systems work”. Under these new regulations, Twitter as it currently operates – with moderation services that Musk has abolished and vertical and arbitrary decision-making in the extreme – could be subject to heavy fines.
“Another step in the infantilization of American life”
For New York Times,”Elon Musk’s decisions this week are sparking a heated debate on the complex issues of freedom of expression and online censorship”. They also highlight the role ofpress barons“, just like “Citizen Musk“, and “William Randolph Hearst or Rupert Murdoch before him”. The daily, one of whose editors was censored by Twitter, wonders “whether Twitter’s days as the media’s favorite social platform are numbered and whether journalists should consider alternatives”.
The vitriolic article of The Atlantic also asserts the political dimension of “Thursday night massacre”. “It’s usually not a matter of public interest when a narcissist like Musk goes off the rails. But like Donald Trump’s anger […], Musk crises can affect our culture and the way we get information”, wrote columnist Tom Nichols.
Acknowledging that there are bigger things going on in the world, he elaborates on why this “computer version of Desperate Housewives” let us all remember, and not just bluebird addicts. Twitter isn’t just for “change pet photo […], it is also a very important channel for news, information, culture and debate. Twitter does not control the news, but helps shape public debate on many issues”.
Calling Musk’s view on free speech “nonsense” – because this one considers white supremacists to be less of a problem than journalists feeding information on a private jet – Tom Nichols judged this whole incident to be “another step in the infantilization of American life”. He easily wrote:world”.