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Savor the Liberal Journalismers™ Twitter Freakout
Drink the delicious tears of blue-check hypocrites.
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Sigh. Let me start off by saying that I don’t particularly like writing about Twitter. Indeed, I think the world would be better off without the platform, and without social media in general, really. But Twitter has turned into a battlefield of ideas featuring issues that are, rather unfortunately, very salient in our digital age, and when I’m not writing self-indulgent personal posts I try to write about that which I think is important, and the latest drama surrounding Twitter certainly qualifies.
Let me also disclose here that I’m an Elon Musk fan and have been for years. I’ve explained why in previous posts. Suffice it to say that, while I understand he can do and say stupid things sometimes, I cannot help but root for the man. I want him to succeed. I also find it hilarious that in short order he’s turned into something of a kryptonite for the Left, which says more about the Left than it does about Musk.
However, I’m conflicted about the latest Musk-fueled Twitter drama, and I think he might be in the wrong here.
To summarize: Last night was basically the Red Wedding for liberal Journalismers™, and goodness gracious has the schadenfreude been absolutely delicious. In the span of about an hour, Musk suspended the accounts of (in my opinion) some of the most obnoxious clowns on the platform, including a few
reporters Audi-driving trustafarians from the Washington Post and New York Times who don’t traffic in the truth very often and the especially odious Aaron Rupar, a left-wing activist and asshole of unflagging industry who probably should’ve been permanently suspended from Twitter ages ago.
Musk’s stated reason was that they were “doxxing” him and putting his family in danger by sharing real-time information speculating on the location of his private jet by looking at flight coordinates, or linking to other sources that were sharing this information. It must be said that his concerns aren’t unfounded, as there was an incident a couple of days ago involving his youngest son and some antifa-clad psycho:
It must also be said that Musk made it abundantly clear accounts doxxing real-time location would be suspended — journalists included — and yet Rupar and his ilk did exactly that in one form or another:
Still, one could easily argue that Musk, who has ostensibly championed free speech, is being hypocritical, particularly in light of the fact that he specifically said he wouldn’t ban the Twitter account tracking his private jet, only to do just that. They say that the true test of whether someone is an actual proponent of free speech is if he permits speech that he finds extraordinarily disagreeable. It would appear Musk is at least partially failing that test.
His complaint is that the public’s awareness of his private jet’s movements was undermining his family’s safety. But though a tricky issue, I’m not sure providing flight information qualifies as doxxing, which usually refers to sharing information such as the home addresses of non-celebrity individuals. Moreover, Musk didn’t show how the tracking of his movements led to the incident with his son.
It’s certainly not an attempted “assassination” to post where a private jet is at any given time. Freely available flight-tracking websites are a key tool of researchers, journalists, and regular ol’ layfolk. For example, people have been using such sites to track Russian oligarchs, and sports reporters/fans will also speculate on where free agents will sign by following private jet movements. Point being that monitoring flights doesn’t specifically endanger anyone, and the practice provides notable public interest benefits.
However. However. According to Musk, his plane is actually not trackable without using non-public data. It uses something called a “Privacy ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Address,” which allows operators to use alternate, temporary ICAO aircraft addresses not attributable to an owner/operator in the publicly available Civil Aviation Registry. Meaning the reporters were specifically sharing private information, and they were well aware of this—they just wanted to irritate Musk. And now it seems they’re lying about it. Folks, I think we might have a classic case of:
Currently, the accounts that have been suspended are only suspended for 7 days. So, there’s that, and it makes the outsized reaction look even more ridiculous. Blatantly break a clearly delineated rule, receive a 7-day suspension. ‘Tis patently unacceptable!
In classic Elon fashion, he has put up a poll asking the Twitter community whether that 7-day penalty should still stand, or if the accounts should be reinstated now. I voted for “Now,” and it appears that the penalty will indeed be foreshortened:
This means we have limited time to revel in the schadenfreude, so let’s.
For years, people like Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald have warned that asking unaccountable billionaires to meddle more and more in speech would result in exactly the table-turning episode we’re seeing play out right now, and that one day the “Words are Violence” crowd would wake up to find an entirely different tycoon in charge of Twitter whose whims they might be subjected to, at which point they would devolve into spasmodic frissons and caterwaul about the evils of oligarchy and what have you, just as they’ve been doing. It’s long been obvious that these morons have staunchly opposed Musk’s takeover because they were struck with fear after realizing that the censorship framework they’ve spent years fortifying could be turned on them.
And now for the first time we get to sit back and watch the Shakespearean tragedy in which the same clique of liberal Journalismers™ who’ve spent years cheering on the state and Big Tech to step in and censor those they disagree with like a bunch of petulant minions are now seeing some of their colleagues banished from the platform in arbitrary ways. I thoroughly enjoy listening to Aaron Rupar hold forth about his timeout from Twitter like he’s fucking Nelson Mandela, and Ben Collins1 doing a running thread on those of his allies in the media who’ve been suspended as if he’s Walter Duranty reporting on Stalinist purges. They and their ilk have explicitly agitated for a regime of social media censorship, and now suddenly they’re rallying to the free speech flag after being dead silent about its importance in the pre-Elon era.
I get that this isn’t a great look for Musk. I mentioned how I voted in his poll. I think he may have overreacted, opening himself up to criticisms and making it seems like he’ll use Twitter to serve his own ends rather than facilitate the public interest.
However, it’s possible to believe that yes, Musk is displaying some hypocrisy, but no, it’s nowhere even remotely close to the opaque, biased manipulation of political discourse that prior Twitter management engaged in. Given the choice between a Twitter that bans people for sharing real-time location information because the new owner finds it unsettling and is concerned about the safety of his family, or a Twitter that blacklists and suppresses Dr. Jay Bhattacharya during a pandemic, I’ll choose the former every time.
But those that have always favored selective censorship have zero room to talk about Twitter suddenly not living up to free speech expectations under new management. You celebrated people getting banned for saying “learn to code”; you do not deserve to be taken seriously now that your commissars are on the receiving end of such action, and it’s abundantly obvious that “free speech for me but not for thee” is your reigning principle. Another batch of Twitter Files could be released showing even more collusion between Big Tech and the state to suppress speech with an added bonus of information on who killed Kennedy and they’d be like, “Nothing Burger ermahgerd something something Trump!”
The hypocrisy has been truly something to behold, though, with Axios calling the temporary suspension of a handful of liberal Journalismers™ “unprecedented,” and CNN pulling a CBS News and saying that they’re going to “reevaluate” their “relationship with Twitter,” and AOC accusing Musk of “proto-fascism,” and novelist Gary Shteyngart quipping, “I haven’t seen this much freedom of speech since the Soviet Union,” and still other imbeciles saying this episode is reminiscent of “Kristallnacht.”
These people and news organizations had every chance to push for another, fairer way of handling online speech, but rather than do so, they specifically endorsed tech companies remaining giant black-box monopolies enforcing nubilous moderation policies so they could direct the speech-policing power of those companies to desired political ends.
Could a less sympathetic group of people even be imagined?