First, I publicly deplore all stalkers, and apparently some people have been stalking and harassing Elon Musk, and someone was following his family around. This is despicable. There are people, irrespective of what political position they hold, who lose all perspective and turn their personal dislike for someone into a crusade, and that is a behavior that must be opposed.
However, it is interesting that rather than relying on the police, the law, and social opprobrium to deal with the problem, Musk is lashing out at journalism.
Twitter suspended the accounts of more than half a dozen journalists from CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post and other outlets Thursday evening, as company owner Elon Musk accused the reporters of posting “basically assassination coordinates” for him and his family.
The Post has seen no evidence that any of the reporters did so.
The suspensions came without warning or initial explanation from Twitter. They took place a day after Twitter changed its policy on sharing “live location information” and suspended an account, @ElonJet, that had been using public flight data to share the location of Musk’s private plane.
@ElonJet wasn’t stalking him. The account was posting publicly available information that you can still get online (although less conveniently formatted), and it had been arbitrarily closed by Musk, after he’d said he wouldn’t.
On Wednesday, @ElonJet was permanently suspended despite a tweet from Musk weeks earlier, saying he would keep it up as part of “my commitment to free speech.”
So much for his commitment to free speech. His latest spasm is even more revealing, though — he’s killing accounts for even mentioning the @ElonJet account, or reporting on confrontations with his stalker.
Around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Musk joined a Twitter Spaces chat — essentially a public conference call — with several journalists, including some who had been banned, in which he reiterated his claim that they had “doxed” him.
The journalists challenged him on this.
“You’re suggesting that we’re sharing your address, which is not true,” said Harwell.
Musk retorted, “You posted a link to the address.”
Harwell replied, “In the course of reporting on @ElonJet, we posted a link to @ElonJet, which is now not online.”
Musk left the call abruptly about four minutes into it.
He has since shut down Twitter Spaces. Or maybe it just broke because he’s been starving the maintenance teams?
We’re now entering the tyrant’s paranoia phase, where he is afraid of all the enemies he imagines are out to get him. He’s losing everywhere — Twitter was never a money-maker to begin with, but now Tesla’s value is plummeting, people are beginning to look at his other business ventures with a skeptical eye (The Boring Company and Hyperloop were clearly useless scams intended to kill mass transit), and his Mars fantasies are pretentious delusions — and he’s seeing well-deserved criticism as personal attacks and even threats to his life. This is a bad attitude to have if you’re trying to run a company whose whole purpose is to allow and encourage free discussion about anything and everything. If his incompetence doesn’t kill Twitter, his eagerness to ban journalists who tweet will do the job.
It’s also hypocritical. Many of us have experienced online stalking that has risen to disruptive levels, far worse than what Elon Musk gets. The old Twitter just shrugged and ignored it, allowing Nazis and misogynists to harass whoever they wanted, and Musk has made it worse. You want to cry and complain about people picking on you, but at the same time you’ve dismantled what little machinery Twitter had in place to police that kind of behavior? I’m not going to feel much sympathy for your chickenshit fee-fees.