That “Thursday night massacre”: that’s how they got the nickname, by a reputable computer security researcher, the unusual events that took place on the evening of Thursday, December 15, on Twitter. It all started when a dozen leading American journalists – writing for outlets such as New York Timesthat washington post, CNN Where The cut – found that their accounts were suspended. Without warning or explanation.
“I got suspended from Twitter yesterday”, writes Michée Lee at the investigation site The cut where he explains in detail the chronology of events. He has apparently been punished for writing that Elon Musk had just suspended the Twitter account of Mastodon, his main competitor in the microblogging business, where millions of people resistant to the methods and methods have gone into exile in recent weeks . the philosophy of the billionaire. This non-profit platform had just tweeted before it was deleted “Did you know ? You can follow @ElonJet on Mastodon”.
A jet plane, a car and an elusive stalker
@ElonJet is an account (formerly on Twitter, now on Mastodon, and ironically still on Truth Social, Donald Trump’s social network) that uses public data to provide the real-time location of Elon Musk’s private jet. The latter was overwhelmed several months ago and wanted to buy the account from its young owner, “a 20-year-old student named Jack Sweeney, for $5,000”, as Donnie Sullivan, the political and technology journalist for CNNalso a victim ofThursday night massacre”.
Faced with the student’s rejection, the wealthy entrepreneur decided on Wednesday to suspend his account and change the rules of the platform, now strictly banning “doxxing” – the act of revealing someone’s personal information.
Sweeney has “published my exact location in real time ie the coordinates to assassinate me”, Musk charged emphatically before explaining that a “crazy stalker” had followed the car his son, X, was in from the airport. But as noted by Daily Beastciting the work of an online investigative journalist working for Bellingcat, Musk has not provided the slightest proof of these allegations, nor has he filed a complaint; as for the video he posted to support his statements, its geolocation proves it was not taken near the airport.
In other words, there is no secure link between the @ElonJet account and the hypothetical stalker because “following a car is very different from following a plane”, explains the Bellingcat mirror. It could also be that everything was invented by the billionaire to justify his decision to delete Jack Sweeney’s account and all those who complained or simply mentioned this censorship.
Critics were quick to point out what Atlantic Ocean qualified for”gigantic whims”. On Friday, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said to himself “very concerned” by the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter, the Qatari channel reports 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 US, Democratic Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has come to the defense of banned journalists, saying that at this rate Musk will quickly make Twitter “outdated”.
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.” She promised that toosanctions soon” if Elon Musk continued to cross “red lines”.
that washington post specifies that the law on digital services in the European Union, called DSA (Digital Service Act) from its entry into force in 2024 will oblige the giants of the digital industries “police illegal content on their platforms more aggressively and be more transparent about how their moderation systems work”. Under these new rules, Twitter as it currently operates – with moderation services decimated by its boss and vertical decision-making at an extreme level – could therefore face heavy fines.
“One More Step in the Infantilization of American Life”
For New York Times“Elon Musk’s decisions this week spark a heated debate about the complex issues of free speech and online censorship”. These decisions also highlight the role of “press barons“, like “Citizen Musk“, Where “William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch before him”. The daily, whose editors were censored by Musk, wonders “if the days of the media’s preferred social network are numbered and whether journalists should consider alternatives”.
The vitriolic article by Atlantic Ocean also insists on 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’s crises can affect our culture and the way we get information”, writes the editor of the monthly Tom Nichols.
He admits that bigger things are happening in the world, and he nevertheless tells why this “computer version of Desperate Housewives” concerns us all, and not just those addicted to the blue bird. Twitter isn’t just for “swap pet photos […], it is also an extremely valuable channel for news, information and culture. Twitter does not control the news, but helps to shape the public debate on many topics”.
Calls Musk’s Vision of Free Speech “nonsense” – since this one believes that white supremacy is less problematic than journalists providing information about a private plane – Tom Nichols considers that this whole affair is ”another step in the infantilization of American life”.
Instead of “American“, he could easily have written: “world”.