Musk fans and conservatives slam journalists’ commentary
Some of Elon Musk’s biggest fans, along with some conservative influencers, condemned Twitter’s decision Thursday to suspend several high-profile journalists who have covered Musk for media outlets such as the New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.
“In short, I am against Twitter being suspended,” conservative podcast host Ben Shapiro tweeted on Friday, on a topic that also attempted to equate the suspensions with content moderation decisions that preceded Musk’s takeover. Shapiro has been a vocal supporter of Musk since he began the Twitter takeover.
On Thursday, the Twitter accounts of at least nine left-leaning journalists and one political critic were suspended. An anti-fascist and anarchist media account was also canceled. The account of Mastodon, a platform that has emerged as one of Twitter’s main competitors, has been suspended, and links to Mastodon and other decentralized autonomous networks have been banned as “unsafe” links that can no longer be tweeted on. Some of the suspensions were initially reported as permanent, but Musk then stated in a tweet that they would last for seven days.
Since Musk became CEO of Twitter, more than a dozen notable people left-leaning accountsAccounts of the anti-fascist and anarchist media were suspended, including independent journalists, anti-fascist and anarchist media accounts, while previously suspended right-leaning accounts were restored, including the founder of the neo-Nazi platform The Daily Stormer and white nationalist Laura Loomer.
“The old system at Twitter was governed by its own whims and biases, and the new system certainly seems to have the same problem,” right-leaning writer Barry Weiss wrote on Twitter on Friday. I oppose it either way. And I think those journalists who were reporting on a story of public interest should be reinstated.”
Weiss was one of a handful of journalists Musk had commissioned a few days earlier to write about what they said was Twitter’s past left-leaning bias. The group published long threads called “Twitter Files,” with email correspondence and internal documents relating to some of the controversial moderation decisions Twitter made prior to the Musk acquisition, including the decision to temporarily block links to a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Musk responded to Weiss’ criticism in a tweet, saying it was a “virtue signal.”
Jason Miller, a keynote speaker for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and CEO of the conservative-leaning alternative social media platform Gettr, told NBC News he disagrees with describing some of the suspended account holders as “journalists,” given their political leanings.
“Banning other names is problematic,” said Miller, who has recently criticized Musk. “Freedom of the press is critical to a free society.”
The ban has added to the concerns of some people who are investing in and celebrating Tesla, the electric car maker where Musk is CEO. Tesla’s stock price fell 4.7% on Friday to its lowest level in 52 weeks for the year, and some investors took to Twitter to urge Musk to refocus his attention.
“I’m an investor in Tesla and I want @elonmusk to come down to Twitter,” Joe Cirincione, national security analyst, tweeted. wrote on Twitter. “My stock has been halved since he made his move to acquire this platform. I love my Model 3, but he’s killing the company with his antics.”
Ross Gerber, a longtime and outspoken supporter of the automaker, said he wants Tesla’s board of directors to act.
Elon has now erased $600 billion from Tesla fortune and still nothing Tesla BOD. Gerber tweeted on Friday.
Musk responded to Gerber on Twitter, blaming the drop in the stock price for interest rate decisions.
“Tesla performs better than ever!” He said. “We don’t control the Fed. That’s the real problem here.”
According to Musk, Thursday’s suspensions were related to new rules about sharing real-time location information, which he linked to an alleged stalking incident.
On Wednesday, Musk tweeted that a car with one of his children in it had been followed and stopped from moving by the driver, who Musk said was on the hood of the car with his child in it. Musk also tweeted a video of the car’s license plate and the person he said followed the car with his child.
Musk said, “Any account that polls real-time location information of anyone will be suspended, as it is a violation of physical integrity. This includes posting links to sites that contain real-time location information.”
“Publishing the locations someone has traveled to based on a slight delay isn’t a safety issue, so that’s okay,” Musk added.
The accounts that were suspended, though, did not tweet about the real-time location of the car Musk said his son was in. One of the banned accounts, “elonjet,” previously tweeted flight data showing the location of Musk’s private jet. Some of the banned journalists tweeted links to the account and other profiles run by creator Jack Sweeney, whose personal Twitter account has also been suspended. On Wednesday, Musk tweeted that legal action would be taken against Sweeney.
Flight data includes where the plane lands, but it doesn’t track passengers outside the plane itself, so it can’t be used to track the real-time location of Musk or his children if they’re not on or near the plane.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has also argued against the left-leaning bias, tweeted on Friday: “Even if it’s a ‘suspense’, the ban seems arbitrary and excessive.” Greenwald recently defended Musk, who has come under fire from Democratic lawmakers.
In an email to NBC News, Greenwald added that any new Twitter rule must be clearly defined and applied consistently.
“My concern is that if Musk is going to ban or punish accounts based on his whims and arbitrary enforcement of unclear rules, he will end up replicating the pre-Musk regime of censorship that has been enjoyed for years by Democrats and liberal media companies.”
Andrew Torba, founder of the far-right social platform Gap, also criticized Musk, describing his company as an alternative to Twitter.
“Elon is once again led by his emotions and treats Twitter not as a product, not as a basic and vital dissemination tool to the entire world, but as a game, controlled by an evil child of the time,” Torba wrote in a blog post Friday.
Christopher Ruffo, who has led “conservative lobbying campaigns” against venues hosting drag shows and Defend Muskin a tweet, “Doxxing should be banned” but “it should be a clear policy, not a changing standard.”
“Arbitrary execution was bad before and it’s bad now,” Ruffo wrote.
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