New Twitter CEO Elon Musk has promised to promote free speech since assuming control of the once-heavily-censorious social media platform. However, Musk might be violating his vow to allow free speech by launching an apparent campaign of retaliation against a Twitter account that targets Musk personally.
The account was active until Wednesday. More than 500,000 followers shared information on the happenings and events of Musk’s aircraft based on publicly accessible information about the flight under the account @ElonJet. The account was operated by a college student and Musk’s admirer, Jack Sweeney. On Wednesday, @ElonJet and Sweeney’s Twitter accounts were banned permanently from the platform. Musk also unveiled an updated Twitter policy prohibiting sharing live information about a user’s location.
This is by itself a false change of policy. Last month Musk stated that he’d allow Sweeney to keep posting. Musk has previously argued that Twitter should permit all legal speech, including @ElonJet, as it’s not illegal to post public information.
Musk’s change of heart was a massive surprise for Jack Sweeney. “I’m pretty surprised, especially after he put out a tweet saying he wouldn’t do it,” Sweeney said to Buzzfeed. “It shows that they can play the rules however they want to, really, for whoever they want.”
According Musk Musk that an incredibly frightening experience caused his change of heart. Musk claims that their son X experienced a sly stalker when he was in a car that Musk linked to the data shared by Sweeney’s Twitter account.
It’s no surprise that it’s awful to think that this could have occurred to the Musk family. Although it’s not right to switch sides in such a way, there is a valid argument to support Twitter’s latest policy, which bans live-time information about the location to protect users.
However, Musk did go one step too to the extreme. “Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,” Musk continued.
If Musk sticks to his threats and takes action in court against Sweeney, He is committing a breach of his pledge to freedom of speech, a complete stop.
Musk can remove Sweeney from Twitter If he wishes. It’s his platform, after all. However, this speech of Sweeney is legal. He is only reposting public information while his expression is protected under the First Amendment.
Allowing Musk to send his case to court and attempt to apply the force of the law to disqualify the speech he is protected from being punished is a violation of the fundamental freedom of speech and a slap in the face to freedom of speech and the First Amendment.
You don’t have to believe me when I say it.
“But concerning taking legal action, it’s clear that that is nonsense bluster. [Jack Sweeney] had absolutely nothing to do with what allegedly happened to the car. He cross-posted publicly available flight data. That is certainly not illegal and is explicitly constitutionally protected by the First Amendment.”
“I get why he doesn’t like it,” Cohn said. “But his feelings are not the law. Legally, there’s nothing he can do.”