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WAR ON FREE SPEECH: Twitter ban decisions are ‘arbitrary and capricious,’ says digital rights advocate


Elon Musk’s recent behavior, such as banning an account that tracks his private jet, shows that the decisions behind the Twitter bans are “totally arbitrary and capricious,” a digital rights advocate told Fox News.

“My first reaction is that this strikes me as totally in line with what we’ve been seeing over the last few weeks, which is that suspension and ban decisions are completely arbitrary and capricious,” Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group of digital rights, he told Fox News.

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On Wednesday, Musk suspended @ElonJet β€” a Twitter account that tracked the CEO’s private jet β€” and the personal account of operator Jack Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida. Musk had previously said that he would keep the account active to promote free speech, but ultimately claimed that it created a threat to himself and his family by sharing his location in real time.

The bans are “definitely going to continue to happen,” McSherry said Wednesday. On Thursday night, several journalists were suspended, including CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan and New York Times reporter Ryan Mac.

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Musk, who bought Twitter in October for $44 billion, had tweeted that the @ElonJet account put his son at risk and said he would take legal action against Sweeney and other organizations that supported the harm to his family.

“Elon Musk claims it’s a matter of personal security, but I don’t think that claim is credible given that it’s publicly available data,” McSherry said.

Twitter is suspending several journalists following the suspension from the platform of the @ElonJet account that Musk claims was removed due to personal security risks.
(Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto, Carina Johansen/NTB/AFP)

Musk defended his decision to ban reporters during a Twitter Spaces chat Thursday night with several journalists, including suspended Washington Post reporter Drew Harrell. The Twitter chief left the chat after being asked if the platform used the same tools he accused the former company’s management of using to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story.

β€œOn the one hand, he and the corporation are exercising their First Amendment rights, and are allowed to do so,” McSherry said between suspensions from @elonjet and from journalists. “On the other hand, I think he’s not consistent with some of the statements that he’s made where he’s been very critical of content moderation.”

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Twitter and other social media platforms need to be clear “what are their standards for violence, harassment, safety, and then follow those standards,” McSherry told Fox News.

“What this really highlights for everyone is something that has concerned us for a while, and that is that there is a tremendous amount of power over speech online that is concentrated in a relatively few hands,” McSherry continued. “I think that’s dangerous for the discourse in general because it means they have a lot of power to shape the discourse.”

McSherry says content moderation is very difficult, but social media platforms need to do better by making policies clearer and more consistent.

McSherry says content moderation is very difficult, but social media platforms need to do better by making policies clearer and more consistent.
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Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

To hear more from McSherry on the power social media executives have over online discourse, click here.



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