A bizarre chain of events unfolded on Twitter Thursday night, starting with the suspension of journalists who cover the Elon Musk beat, Musk himself joining (then shutting down) a live chat about this, and the platform being jimmied so users couldn’t post links to a rival social media network. Free speech!
Whoa, Thursday night was a wild one on Twitter, in proceedings that can best be described in the tweet below.
nights like this are darkly hilarious on twitter bc my TL is like:— Chris Branch (@cbranch89) December 16, 2022
Journalist: this is really bad.
Journo 2: follow me on mastodon guys
football writer: that’s gonna be a first down for the Niners
The prologue to Thursday night's madness started Wednesday, when Twitter banned the kid whose account tracked Musk’s private jet. Musk has since spun some yarn, seen below, that his infant son (“lil X” refers to his algebra-named baby with Grimes, not Lil Nas X) was “was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood.”
They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
He blames the jet tracker account for “doxxing real-time location,” even though the FAA publicly tracks all jet traffic in real time, and that information is available on numerous third-party websites. Moreover, the incident seen above is In a car and not an airplane, and cars are not tracked, plus the LA Times reports that Musk did not file police report about the incident.
Anyone recognize this person or car? pic.twitter.com/2U0Eyx7iwl— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022
But sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. PT Thursday night, the Chronicle reports that Twitter suspended the accounts of several journalists who cover Musk. (The New York Times pins it as “at least eight” journalists.) Among those suspended is the Times’ Ryan Mac, who has reported unflattering stories about Musk’s reign at Twitter such as the loss of advertisers, that bills are going unpaid at the company, and that Twitter stopped paying rent at its offices.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan is also among those suspended, under the claim he was sharing the location of Musk’s jet. “In my case, I didn’t,” O’Sullivan said on CNN. “We just posted stories about what was happening, him shutting down those accounts. But look, I think the bigger issue here is that this is suppose to be the guy who is the ‘free speech absolutist.’”
The AP reports that immediately before O’Sullivan’s account was suspended, he’d shared a screenshot of an LAPD statement that no report had been filed in the alleged stalking incident.
Yet a couple of the suspended journalists found a rather amusing technical loophole — suspended accounts could still participate in live audio chats on Twitter Spaces! So there was a Twitter Space chat with several journalists, seen above. Needing to be the center of attention, Musk himself joined the chat, as Fox News reports, but then withered under tough questioning and shut down the chat.
Suspended Washington Post journalist Drew Harwell confronted Musk, saying “You’re suggesting that we’re sharing your address, which is not true,” Harwell told Musk. “We posted links to [the jet tracking account ] ElonJet.”
“If you doxx, you get suspended, end of story, that’s it,” Musk said, before killing the chat feed, because he’s in charge of Twitter. Now Buzzfeed reports that the Twitter Spaces tool itself has been suspended.
“Account update failed. Description is considered malware.” 🤣 pic.twitter.com/LynG1JGivz— Graham Cluley 🇺🇦 (@gcluley) December 16, 2022
Also notable, as seen above, is that Twitter will no longer allow you to add a link in your bio to the rival social media platform Mastodon.
Gonna be sad to see Twitter nuke this account in a couple weeks https://t.co/twhKUkrbHk— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) December 15, 2022
Given these developments, and Musk’s obsession with stories involving him as opposed to, you know, trying to run a revenue-generating business, it’s fair to wonder… Is Elon Musk coming a little unglued? Is he having financial difficulties because of his debt leverage? I will of course stay tuned and monitor the developments on Twitter, that is, unless my account gets suspended too.
Image: NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: The Twitter account of Elon Musk is displayed on a smartphone with a Twitter logo in the background on November 21, 2022 in Newcastle Under Lyme, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)