What a friggin candy-ass lying hypocritical self-contradicting little paranoid snowflake Elon Musk is.
“My commitment to free speech,” the new Stalin of Twitter wrote on November 6th, “extends to not banning the account, following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”
Musk then banned the account. And the kid behind it, Jack Sweeney. And then he banned tech writers from the WaPo, CNN, New York Times who covered it. And when I stood up for them — he banned me. Much of what you’re reading here is an update of today’s Countdown podcast, which gives a blow-by-blow of last night’s frolics.
We start with Jack Sweeney. He IS a kid; he’s a teenager, he’s a college freshman. Musk banned the account he’d just boasted about NOT banning — after first trying to bribe him, and after the kid had the audacity to propose a compromise in which the information was delayed. Then Wednesday night Musk put out some story about a guy in a car following a car supposedly connected to his family, then climbing on the Musk family car’s hood, and stated as if fact that it all happened – IF it happened -- only because of information gleaned from the @ElonJet account and promised “legal action is being taken against Sweeney and organizations who supported harm to my family.” Musk’s hyperbolic publicity stunt about this has since grown from “My commitment to free speech extends to not banning the account following my plane” to quote “they posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates,” unquote – as the impeccable Philip Bump of The Washington Post writes “identifying the location of an airplane provides ‘assassination coordinates’ to like the operator of a Patriot missile battery.’” I give Phil’s account until, like Saturday lunchtime. By the way, this “I was on the plane” Muskian bleat also contradicts his earlier claim that he wasn’t ON the plane tracked by Sweeney’s account.
On Wednesday Mush had also promised “any account doxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended.” And then he tweeted video, purportedly of the driver who purportedly was driving near the Musk family car, panning down to the license plate, and asking “anybody recognize this person or car”… Disseminating the license plate is the definition of doxxing. Interestingly, there is as of this recording NO criminal case or complaint filed in Los Angeles, where Musk claims this took place, nor any evidence that it DID take place. It’s noted elsewhere that the date on the video doesn’t match Musk’s claim of when he was “doxxed.”
Then Jack Sweeney opened another tracking account at Mastodon (and remember all the flight information is publicly available, completely legal, and promulgated by hundreds of websites and social media accounts – the info has been used to track everybody from Russian oligarchs to baseball free agents). At this point, last night, things escalated and Elon Musk did his Thelma-and-Louise bit into the Twitter Grand Canyon. Other Twitter users, including prominent liberals like independent gadfly journalist Aaron Rupar, reported on At-Elon-Jet-At-Mastodon and linked to it, and the purge began. Rupar was permanently suspended, without being notified why. Drew Harwell of The Washington Post wrote “Twitter just suspended a competitor’s account (at-join-mastodon) because it posted a link to its own website’s version of at-Elon-Jet – public, legally acquired data that Twitter decided two days ago was against the rules. Loving the free speech.” Harwell attached screenshots. Harwell had emailed Musk on Tuesday about why he reinstated a series of prominent QAnon accounts. Musk had replied simply “LOL.” Harwell, NOT an independent, but of The Washington Post – and you’d think Musk would empathize with the Washington Post since it’s owned by another mega-rich guy named Jeff Bezos and they must have a club or a secret handshake or something – Harwell was then permanently banned, without notification or explanation.
We’d need a forensic pathologist to get the sequence exactly right but Musk then apparently banned CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan, who interviewed the Elon-Jet-At-Mastodon guy Sweeney – and his grandmother – without being notified, or being told why. Either right before Donie got hit or right after it, Musk banned Ryan Mac, who is the tech reporter at The New York Times. “Neither the Times nor Ryan have received any explanation about why this occurred,” said a spokesman for the gray lady.
This is when I got whacked. To continue the Godfather analogy I’d love to say I was that guy Phillip Tattaglia who Michael Corleone Musk’s henchman machine-gunned while he was in bed with the lady with not so many clothes on, but frankly I was just sitting here icing my torn rotator cuff and reading twitter and getting more and more pissed off. I suggested we do a mass protest requiring only a few quick steps. I tweeted: “So here’s a plan: A) EVERYBODY RT the screenshot that apparently got the account of Drew Harwell of The Washington Post suspended. B) AND recreate the tweet word for word with the link C) AND link to Aaron Rupar’s piece that got him permanently suspended…”
If it didn’t occur to you, I knew what I was doing here: Elon Musk has already proved himself not much of a businessman, certainly nothing resembling a free-speech absolutist, and not very good with truth or even explaining why he changed his mind (if he has one). I expected a suspension or a ban. But at this point I was in for a surprise. When I went to post the link, Mastodon-Dot-Social-Slash-At-Elon-Jet a notice came up on twitter reading “TWEET NOT SENT: Your tweet couldn’t be sent because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.” So I broke the link into words and tweeted it and added “you literally CAN’T tweet the Mastodon link… which is (etc).” My protest thread continued: “5) And whoever is still left here to address the suspensions of Donie O’Sullivan of CNN and Ryan Mac, RT what happened to them. See you on the other side friends.”
Within minutes my account was suspended. Then it popped back into service briefly and I replied to some tweets and retweeted others. Then THAT stopped. Then the notice changed to “Your account is permanently suspended. After careful review, we determined your account broke the Twitter Rules. Your account is permanently in read-only mode, which means you can’t Tweet, Retweet, or Like content.” Incidentally they’re wrong about that. I just checked. I’m a Twitter Ghost, but I can still retweet and like. AND read the latest ad for a sequined Bolivian Throwing Dagger available for $19 or three for $22.
Within an hour the rest of Don Vito Musk-leone’s targets were gushing blood all over the nice clean sheets of the Twitter morgue. The twitter account of the Mastodon site. Matt Binder from Mashable, Micah Lee from the Intercept. Tony Webster, another gadfly Steve Herman from The Voice of America and congratulations Elmo – The Voice of America has now been banned by you and the KREMLIN.
A little after 9 Eastern last night Musk tweeted: “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.” I retweeted that nonsense from my second account adding “None of us doxxed you, Snowflake,” which is exactly true – and it’s true for Victim Zero here, Jack Sweeney of the Elon-Jet account. I also sent Apartheid Clyde back his tweet about how his commitment to free speech extending to not banning Sweeney’s account – a commitment that will last a lunchtime.
Happily, even people who would be dictators – whether of a country, an industry, or a website – can never shut down all the critics nor all the leakers. Richard Nixon learned that. So did Trump. So has musk. “The account bans were labeled ‘direction of Ella’ in Twitter’s internal systems,” reported The Washington Post last night. “according to two former employees in contact with Twitter’s staff.” No, Ella is not what Elon calls himself whenever he goes to his happy place. To again quote The Post, she’s “Ella Irwin, the company’s head of trust and safety (who) has carried out many of Musk’s orders since he purchased the company in late October and began upending its rules in the name of what he CALLED quote ‘free speech.’”
Ella Irwin, the always useful Linked-In advises us, has a 20-year career in Marketplace Abuse, Consumer Trust, Global Trust and Policy at places like Amazon and Google and eHarmony – wait, E-HARMONY? – which she’s just flushed down the drain. Happily before that she was a Call Center Operations Manager at Great Western Bank in Northridge, California and I understand they’re hiring again. Irwin hasn’t tweeted since December 9th. Her account on twitter is @EllaGIrwin. She did issue a brief statement to the website The Verge: “Without commenting on any specific accounts, I can confirm that we will suspend any accounts that violate our privacy policies and put other users at risk.” Not referring to specific accounts was prudent – claiming that Donie O’Sullivan or Aaron Rupar or me or THE VOICE OF AMERICA “put other users at risk” is slander and, to wit, legally actionable. Naturally Musk himself completely screwed up his plausible deniability. Responding to somebody on the right who, to their credit, objected to my banishment, he stated as if fact that I had doxxed him. Lawyers are being consulted as we speak.
Elon also made a further fool of himself by joining a Twitter Spaces audio chat late last night. Thanks to the technical deterioration of Twitter which seems to have happened because he FIRED EVERYBODY, people like Harwell of The Post who were banned, were still able to join the Twitter Space. Musk tried repeating “I was doxxed” and “no ban evasion” again and again and when everybody else didn’t simply applaud he just dropped out of the confab and then disabled the Twitter Spaces function. He also did one of his Vox Populi twitter polls to ask how long we should be suspended and when he didn’t get the result he wanted he said he’d offered too many choices and would re-do the poll. The Chowderhead.
Incidentally, thanks to the media magazine Variety whose headline reads “Twitter Suspends Accounts of Keith Olbermann, Aaron Rupar and More Journalists Who Cover Elon Musk.” I’d be embarrassed at top billing considering I was in the background here, but, you know, ego is ego. Others have asked what they can do, and the answer is to help the voices you enjoy flourish even if they ALL get purged from Twitter. In my case the podcast is free and pretty effing good if I must say so myself. You can follow it and listen every morning (I usually post at midnight) or not as the case may be. I do a lengthy political commentary to start, then some news, sports, Worst Persons, and a career anecdote (on Fridays it’s a James Thurber reading). I am not above asking you to sign up, wherever you get your podcasts (except twitter, because I was a bad bad boy on twitter).
The other thing you can try (and I think Twitter can’t do anything in response, but I would ask you to make that guess for yourself) is to tweet the link to today’s podcast via your own account.
This kind of purge was, of course, inevitable. It’s hard to believe Twitter could have gone downhill from where it was six weeks or six months or six years ago, but it’s plummeted like a safe in a Roadrunner cartoon. Racism, misogyny, threats, inducements to violence, anti-LGBTQ scumbaggery, and ACTUAL doxxing have exploded. Ads are everywhere – they used to be for cars and computers and travel and now they’re for sequined throwing daggers. My colleagues at the Countdown podcast were going to buy a brief and tiny ad campaign on Twitter to reach likely listeners who weren’t following me or the pod for whatever reason. We looked at the lay of the land and cancelled the buy. It was exactly 500 dollars.
How can I put this? We decided Twitter is not worth 500 dollars.
The big news organizations who are actually the backbone of News Twitter — and what IS twitter? Korean Boy Band Twitter, Wint-Dril Twitter, and News Twitter — aren’t happy either. “Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter,” said a CNN spokesperson after the suspension of Donie O’Sullivan. CNN says it asked Twitter for an explanation and would, quote, “reevaluate our relationship based on that response.” Flatly, barring an immediate reversal by Musky and the appointment of some grown-up to run the place, any news organization remaining on Twitter – or letting its journalists tweet – is taking its own reputation in its hands.
It would be cathartic to go on a full rant against Musk but what exactly would the point be? Only he and the right wing vermin he let back on to Twitter, and the Republicans he endorsed after claiming he was politically neutral, and that his attempt to memory-hole January 6th as some sort of false flag, or big tech censorship moment, either coincidentally-with or in-coordination-with Trump… actually BUY that all this was some sort of free speech triumph, or believe he is acting responsibly, or consistently, or as an adult. He’s just another monied nitwit, although he seems to have dedicated himself to burning as much of his money on fire as quickly as he can in a way that might make even Kanye West say “hey, dude, hold on a moment.” As for the washed-up fascists Musk resuscitated like Glenn Greenwald and Tom “Can’t Somebody Find Me A Shirt That Fits So My Nipples Don’t Poke Through” Fitton celebrating the bans, who a month ago were denying Twitter had any right to ban anybody for any reason at all; the people who hallucinated that there was ONE set of rules for Right Wing Twitter and ONE set of rules for Left Wing Twitter and who are now CELEBRATING that there really IS one set of rules for Right Wing Twitter and one set of rules for left wing twitter - they should remember that with the consistency this Muskwipe has shown recently, next week WE will all be back, and THEY will all be suspended.
But I did want to point out that the bottom line here is: Elon Musk just isn’t very bright. I realize that the fascists he’s been pandering to aren’t either, but still: if on April 25th you tweet – as Musk did – “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means” and not eight months later you fabricate a flimsy excuse to ban your critics – and your competitors – you HAVE to have somebody AROUND you who will REMIND you that this ISN’T “Mission Impossible” – your old tweets don’t automatically self-destruct. Hell, on November 22nd… THIS November 22nd, Musk wrote “As is obvious to all but the media, there is not one permanent ban on even the most far left account…
Well I don’t know about them. I’d ask those most far left account but we all got banned last night.