Twitter Suspensions Called Unfair

The Twitter accounts of CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and others were abruptly suspended by Elon Musk this week. “To be thrown off the platform with no warning or explanation is the worst kind of censorship,” O’Sullivan complained. “This never would have happened under the previous ownership.”

Musk challenged the assertion that the suspensions were unfair and unexplained. “The reason these individuals had their accounts temporarily suspended is that they were using Twitter to dox me,” Musk tweeted. “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended because it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. The notion that so-called journalists have a special privilege of helping would-be assaillants and assassins find their targets is pernicious.”

O’Sullivan called the suspension “chilling. Freedom of speech is a fundamental principle of an open society. Censoring it as Musk has done is a significant step on the road to totalitarianism.”

Musk replied, saying “I am encouraged that O’Sullivan expresses support for freedom of speech. It would have impressed me more if he had spoken out against the rampant censorship that Twitter practiced before I bought the company.”

O’Sullivan defended the prior censorship, saying that “freedom of speech doesn’t protect disinformation or misinformation. All who speak have an obligation to be honest. There was nothing dishonest about the posting of the precise locations of Musk and his family. If the FBI had objections to doxxing they would have contacted me directly. Their hand-in-glove cooperation with the previous owners of Twitter to ferret out misleading tweets was crucial to the government’s vaccination program and played a significant role in thwarting the election machinations of the enemies of democracy. Criticizing it is unpatriotic.”

The European Union has threatened to levy sanctions against Twitter for the suspension of these journalists. Commissioner Vera Jourova said that “the suspensions violate our new Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA requires respect of media freedom. The arbitrary suspension of journalists for linking to a site that tracked Musk’s private airplane is worrying. Sanctions are coming if Musk fails to reverse course. The DSA authorizes us to impose fines of up to 6% of Twitter’s annual gross revenue.”

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