Turns Out, Free Speech on the Internet is Hard

Alex Ashton
4 min readDec 19, 2022

Analyzing Elon Musk’s latest bizarre moves with Twitter.

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

Last week, Twitter CEO Elon Musk made a series of moves that seemed to contradict his previous statements surrounding free speech.

First, he suspended a Twitter account that tracked his private jet, information that is public on various plane tracking websites. He justified this by calling it “doxxing” and declared that posting real time locations on anyone would be considered as such and would also result in suspensions.

Doxxing is defined as the sharing of non-public, private or personal information on the internet with malicious intent. Typically, this involves posting someone’s home address or phone number with the intent of having people harass the subject. Musk cited a now verified instance of a stalker to justify his position on real time flight tracking, even though the Los Angeles Police Department found no link between flight tracking and the stalking incident.

Then he went further and suspended a series of journalists who even covered the story and posted links to public jet tracking websites.

By today, most of the journalists had been reinstated.

In the midst of all of this, Twitter Safety announced a new policy forbidding the linking to or “free promotion” of profiles on a list of other social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social among others. The backlash was swift, with many pointing out the obvious hypocrisy (Twitter has promotional accounts on other platforms) and Twitter quickly back-peddled on the policy.

So much for the free speech paradise promised by Musk

We really don’t know Musk’s endgame with Twitter. It’s fair to say that his proclaimed quest to re-open the platform as a bastion of free-speech may not have been made in good faith.

Some have speculated these bizarre moves are being made just to maintain attention and engagement. Others…

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Alex Ashton

History, culture, family, religion, data, and technology from a center-left, civil libertarian, middle-class perspective. Publisher: The Missing Middle.