Elon Musk and his ambiguous relationship with freedom of information on Twitter
Jack Sweeney and Elon Musk
Jack Sweeney created an account automatically reporting the routes of Elon Musk’s private jet, which was suspended Wednesday by the platform despite the entrepreneur’s promise not to touch it, illustrating his variable geometry approach to moderation.
Flip-flop later, the account had been reinstated late Wednesday in the United States, its owner tweeting, “I’m back!” Before finally being suspended again in the evening.
“My commitment to free speech goes as far as not banning the account that follows my plane, even if it represents a direct risk to my personal safety,” Elon Musk had written on Twitter in early November, a few days after buying the platform for $ 44 billion.
“Account suspended” was written simply on the account in question, named @ElonJet, on Wednesday.
The account had been created by a student and was followed by about 500,000 people, @ElonJet used public data to indicate, automatically, when and where the aircraft of the boss of Spacex and Tesla took off and landed.
In a message posted at the top of the account when it was still visible, its author stressed that he had “every right to transmit information” about the jet since the data is public and all planes are required to be equipped with a transponder, a device designed to help identify them by radar.
“Twitter’s policy states that data found on other sites can be shared here as well,” the message stated.
“Posting someone’s location in real time violates the +doxing+ rule, but posting it offline is allowed,” Elon Musk had tweeted on Wednesday, with the term “doxing” meaning publicly disclosing, on the internet most often, personal information about an individual without their consent.
In addition, the personal Twitter account of the student, Jack Sweeney, has also been suspended.
Elon Musk, since early November, has sent conflicting messages about what is and is not allowed on it.
Elon Musk claims to be a strong advocate of free speech – as long as what is said is within the law – he has reinstated accounts previously banned by the social network, including that of Donald Trump.
On the other hand, he also suspended Kanye West’s account after the publication of several messages deemed anti-Semitic and he refused the return on the platform of the far-right conspiracy fighter, Alex Jones.
The billionaire has also promoted in recent days the publication of several series of “Twitter files”, internal documents supposed to illustrate questionable moderation practices under the previous management.
Jack Dorsey, the former boss of Twitter, publicly defended his former colleagues on Tuesday, saying in a message that the attacks against them “can be dangerous and do not solve anything.
Jack Dorsey, also defended the idea that “only the original author of a content should be able to remove it” and that moderation should not be done via a “centralized system” but done by algorithms designed by the public.