After a traumatic incident in Los Angeles involving a stalker and his young son, Elon Musk has banned a popular Twitter account tracking the movement of his private jet and now instituted a broad policy against doxxing in a move that flies in the face of his unbridled commitment to free speech just days earlier.
Elon Musk Bans @ElonJet, Promises Legal Action Against 19-Year-Old Jack Sweeney
Generally speaking, I am a big fan of Elon Musk and view him as the sort of once-in-a-generation innovator that is more a force for good than for bad in the world. When Musk purchased Twitter, I expressed a degree of optimism that we would see some positive changes.
> Read More: Concerning Elon Musk And The Future Of Twitter
But six weeks later, I am quite disappointed to see the direction Musk has taken the company and the sort of frenzied, ad hoc decisions Musk seems to be making without much thought.
Take the @ElonJet account of Jack Sweeney, an account that followed the movement of Musk’s private jet. Musk tried to buy this kid off (it did not work…Musk broke off communication when did not like the counter-offer) and when he took over Twitter, he promised this account would not be banned as part of his commitment to free speech:
My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
> Read More: Elon Musk Offers Teen $5K To Stop Tracking His Private Jet On Twitter
But as of yesterday, the account is banned. Musk went on an (understandable) tirade after a car carrying his son in Los Angeles was blocked by a stalker of some kind purportedly looking for Musk. As a result of that harrowing incident, Musk has now banned the sharing of:
Live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to 3rd-party URL(s) of travel routes, actual physical location, or other identifying information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless if this information is publicly available;
He has further explained:
Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood.
Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022
Of course, this is Musk’s prerogative, but I’m sure I am not the only one who finds it ironic that Musk “doxxed” (publishing private or identifying information about a particular individual on the internet, typically with malicious intent) the stalker who followed his car:
Anyone recognize this person or car? pic.twitter.com/2U0Eyx7iwl
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022
Musk And The Limits Of Free Speech
I do not think anyone begrudges Musk for his outrage over the person stalking his car and potentially putting the life of his son in jeopardy. In terms of placing limits on free speech, I’d love to see a massive crackdown on paparazzi, whose actions step over the bounds of speech to constitute harassment (both physical and verbal).
The problem here is that Musk promised one thing and now changed his mind…as we’ve seen over and over again during his tumultuous tenure running Twitter. It is less so policies than the lack of stability (for example, firing workers, then begging them to return) that is undermining Twitter. Musk is a sharp man…can he not see this?
All of this exposes the limits of free speech in a society in which the meaning of that phrase both constitutionally and practically is laced with many shades of nuance.
Take the comment policy on Live and Let’s Fly. While we are far more permissive than most other larger independent travel blogs, there are limits. While we have chosen to let people make fools of themselves in hopes of supporting a robust discussion, any threats, profanity, or what I deem blasphemy is not permitted. And in some cases, that comes down to an “I’ll know it when I see it” form of judgment.
But even giving Musk the benefit of the doubt, I disdain reactionary policy of all stripes and cannot help but to shake my head at the hypocrisy that has characterized his brief time at Twitter. And that has consequences–his handling of Twitter makes me less likely to buy another Tesla. Every morning I now wake up with spam DMs…that’s not why I pay him $8/month for Twitter Blue.
There is no such thing as pure free speech – I liken it to the tragedy of commons. Too much of a good thing is twisted and perverted by those who lack the sort of reciprocity of respect and circumspection necessary for that freedom to flourish.
I cannot say I am surprised that Musk has banned @ElonJet, but I am quite disappointed. This whole brouhaha nicely demonstrates the complexities of speech and will hopefully spur Musk to be more thoughtful as he reckons with the complexities of running a social media company.
Anything is better than the previous corporate tyranny. “As Weiss discovers, numerous people at Twitter, including high-up officials, knew very well that the tweets Trump was ostensibly banned for did not amount to incitement to violence.” https://thespectator.com/topic/donald-trump-never-banned-twitter-files/
Un huh. Could you find a slightly more biased source?
the internal Slack DM’s from former Twitter leadership confirming there was no incitement of violence from Trump are not enough? the left loves to disparages sources, instead of looking at content. Try harder, please.
I am not even remotely political, my life is the same under Democrat or Republicans leadership.
With that said, we are talking about Social Media here, not life and death.
Who the heck cares if the former President, myself, Matthew Klint or anyone else is banned from Twitter or not.
On the list of important things, Twitter is way way at the bottom. In a sense, being banned does not matter, one can still live their life if they are banned on Twitter.
I don’t use Twitter, I don’t even use other forms of Social Media and my life is exactly the same as it was prior to Social Media being a thing and I would wager so is the former President’s.
My point, maybe he was banned unnecessarily, but at the end of the day, being banned by Twitter doesn’t equate being banned irl.
My life is worse under Democrat leadership, but I’m happy to hear it’s not for you. As far as all of your other points, you are entitled to your opinion. Will have to agree to disagree.
Maybe Donald Trump himself lol
We live in the information age. All of the twitter files released by Elon have Slack screenshots showing DM’s from Trust and Safety, etc., so the information is there should you be able to handle overlooking the source(s).
No screenshots in the article. But keep reaching.
they are available all over.. try Google
Anyone paying attention knew that Elon was only bringing free speech that he agreed with to twitter. Air space is public, flight tracking is public knowledge, and unless his car has an aircraft transponder I fail to see how flight tracking led to that incident.
This whole free speech campaign is just a bunch of bull. Try showing picture of Elon before his hair transplant on twitter and see how long your account lasts. He just wanted people to be racists and plot insurrections without interference.
This is just showing how thin skinned and hypocritical Republicans are
I couldn’t agree with you more.
And I am having trouble Matthew admitting he’s a ‘big fan’ of Musk. I would have expected his standards to be bit higher than the latest self-promoting American megalomaniac. Especially one as self-absorbed and foolish as Musk. Let’s hope he didn’t invest in Dogecoin.
I am fan of Twitter’s chaos (I hope it gets worse)
But that ElonJet kid has seemed to reach levels of actual stalking. He even said “I guess I can’t let him win now” in an interview after getting banned. What is he trying to prove? That a $100+ billionaire that is now running 3 major companies got places to be?
I think the banning that can be excused per the “more free” free speech that Musk is claiming to be. This kid might be harmless in the grand scheme of things but what if a more malicious stalker (who may not be at all a fan of Musk given his actions lately) tries to do the same?
And good for musk suing this kid and his family. He knows that this is all public info the kid was tweeting out and he has no case, but who cares, he should just cripple them with legal debt and force them to live on the streets just incase they are libtards.
Yep! I know you’re largely sarcastic but FAFO!
I just spent my weeks pay on Trump Superhero trading cards! Wanna start trading? I cant wait until Elon superhero trading cards come out so I can spend my rent money on those! Can you suggest some other ways I can lick billionaires boots?
What’s the connection between tracking a plane into an airport and being followed in a car?
So the stalker waited at the airport and was somehow able to follow them out onto a public road and that’s the problem?
Something does not add up here – but ever since Mr Musk bought twitter nothing really has.
“Doxing” someone after a crime was committed, is not Doxing, it’s evidence.
Used to be a fan but then he kept showing his true personality more and more. This is just the latest example of his frail ego and hypocrisy.
Awaiting moderation? Is there something new we should know about regarding comments? Mine have never been obscene, threatening or hateful. Why the sudden filter, or is it for everyone?
Backend problems today.
Twitter will always be a s*** hole no matter who runs it.
Hopefully the fall of Twitter has begun.
” I’d love to see a massive crackdown on paparazzi, whose actions step over the bounds of speech to constitute harassment”
My understanding is that you cannot “trespass the eyes,” so any photography that is taken of anything that is visible from a public space is fair game. It is up to the individual desiring privacy to create it. Do you disagree with this assessment, or do you believe laws should be changed that provide a greater expectation of privacy in public?
Meghan Markle learned the hard way that being a public figure in the US means that the standard of what constitutes being illegally stalked is not the same as if it was some random woman having a strange man chasing her around and trying to scope her out at all hours of the day and night.
Elon Musk is having some of the same growing pains, but he seems to have no leash on his childish bully mentality.
Did you mean to use the word “blasphemy”? As person’s view of God or other deities (or there belief in lack thereof) is highly subjective, I am surprised you would limit post that you might disagree with on a religious basis.
I won’t ban those with a different conception of God or no conception of God. Atheists are welcome and even disparaging remarks, in good taste, are okay, in the spirit of discussion. What I won’t tolerate are remarks, whether directed at the Christian, Jewish, or Islamic faith, that I feel are intended to simply denigrate those faiths for no compelling purpose and especially remarks that are crude or foul.
Oh, the problems of the rich…
He’s a complete jackass. And getting closer to a James Bond villain every day — all he needs is the Persian cat.
The world would be better without him, without Twitter and all social media.
Anyone who admires him, thinks he’s cool, should take a hard look in the mirror.
It’s easy for us to pontificate as arm chair quarterbacks but how would we react if this happened to one of our children? I have no problem with him suspending doxxers along with child porn, sex traffickers, etc.
Matthew thank you for hosting a platform that supports differing opinions. I love the comment section for this reason.
How did Republicans on Twitter, cheered on by musk react when Nancy pelosis husband was attacked at home? They said it was his gay lover. Could that have been Elons gay lover? I don’t know, I’m just asking questions here
Ironically Emo has slashed the team that works to stop child porn appearing on twitter. But you do you.
Yes, it’s always great for hate speech to have another platform.
He’s a big time hypocrite, now blocking reporters on twitter that are critical of him. He honestly does not have qualities worth admiring. Its time for twitter to die.
It may be time to rename the Streisand effect to the Musk effect if EM follows through on his threat to pursue baseless litigation against an innocent college student. ADSb transponders are mandatory devices used for public safety. There’s nothing in Sweeney’s tweets that could be construed as malicious or negligent.
If you own TSLA stock it’s time to ask yourself how much longer the market will support a P/E above those of legacy car manufacturers.
This just in… LAPD has no record of anyone reporting this “incident” and Twitter has suspended the accounts of several high profile reporters that cover musk. The wheels are coming off. What a fraud
He’s going nuclear snowflake!
real-time thread of all the journalists’ accounts he is suspending… until he suspends this one too:
A “free speech absolutist” my arse.
What a hypocritical egomaniac.
Musk is a hypocrite with regard to his stance about “freedom of speech” and banned/suspended accounts on Twitter. He’s been hyper-eager to ban a bunch of major newspaper company employees too from using Twitter, and he been doing so in this month following his acquisition of Twitter.
It will be interesting to see how he is going to try to use the massive decline in Twitter’s enterprise value (and goodwill write-off) to offset his capital gains and other income taxes.
Twitter will not die but will struggle and many will leave the platform. Musk will continue to damage his investment.
But what really amuses me is that the end of @elonjet on Twitter doesn’t mean much since it lives on on Facebook:
As long as there is publicly available data and some kind of platform to share it these types of things will not stop, no matter what Elon Musk does or says
Musk seems to have decided there are limits to free speech after all, but only when it’s him you’re talking about.