Elon Musk may know a thing or two about building electric cars and rockets. But his supposed grasp on free speech is nothing but a crash-and-burn affair, as proven in the aftermath of his banning roughly a dozen journalists from Twitter on Dec. 15.
Though Musk has accused reporters from outlets including CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post of doxing — that is, sharing documents that allow people to track his private jet — it’s nothing more than a ghost under his bed in the main cabin. The reporters in question didn’t even come close to doing that. Note to Musk, who never misses a chance to tell people what a genius he is: The FAA will tell you that it’s damn near impossible to keep such information private.
As for that teeny weeny FAA detail (you may ban their account now, Mr. Musk), it was Fox Business correspondent Susan Li who discovered as much. Still banned from Twitter as of Dec. 22, Li spoke with Talking Biz News/Qwoted in an exclusive interview where she gives her perspective on what happened, why it matters and what it says about the true state of free speech on one of the world’s most important media platforms. Meanwhile, Li has found a bright side in all this: moving from false dox charges to a true detox recharge. (Read on.)
TBN/Qwoted: What was your reaction to being banned by Musk?
Susan Li: I was surprised and a bit confused since I didn’t break any of Twitter’s official rules. But maybe there’s a difference between “Twitter’s rules” and “Elon’s Rules.” I’m really not that anxious to get back on Twitter anymore. It’s been a great detox!
TBN/Qwoted: Obviously you did not dox Musk. What was his complaint against you and how far off is that complaint?
Li: I did not break any of Twitter’s new doxxing rules, which clearly state that “Sharing information that is publicly available elsewhere” is not a violation of the doxxing policy. I was doing my job as a journalist and due diligence by actually researching the facts. I did not share any of Musk’s personal details such as tail wing numbers, etc. I just simply pointed out that the Elon Jet was using public information that anyone could easily find online. I even contacted the FAA to confirm and they told me that flight information is pretty much public through the Freedom of Information Act.
TBN/Qwoted: What have you been doing since to work your job as faithfully as possible?
Li: Doing what I’ve always done in this profession — report the facts through a non-political filter and let other people draw their own conclusions.
TBN/Qwoted: What message do you think this sends to your colleagues in the media?
Li: Hopefully that content moderation rules should not be arbitrary or at the mercy of a single person’s biases or moods. It should be standard across the board and across political aisles.
TBN/Qwoted: What has the support been like to you? Who has reached out so far?
Li: I’ve been so encouraged by the peer support from other journalists that work at competing news outlets. Also a few of my colleagues like Neil Cavuto. The search for truth should be universal.
TBN/Qwoted: We definitely want to add our encouragement and 110 percent support as well. Meanwhile, have you heard anything about your access restored as of today (Thursday)?
Li: Nope. But I’m not that bothered by it either.
TBN/Qwoted: Is there a lesson to be gleaned so far as Musk’s stewardship of Twitter is concerned, or the current state of Twitter in general?
Li: My takeaway is that content moderation is hard. Being the arbiter of truth should not rest on the shoulders of one person.
Musk rat droppings: Three Twitter debacle lessons
Editor’s note: In the aftermath of Musk’s actions, three things have happened:
- Tesla has been downgraded by Wall Street.
- European and U.N. officials are looking into sanctions against Musk. Melissa Fleming, the UN’s under secretary general for global communications, on the ban: “Media freedom is not a toy.”
- In the second of Musk’s unscientific polls, 17.5 million Twitter users voted in a landslide (57.5 percent to 42.5 percent) to have him step down as CEO.
In other words: Let’s suspend Musk from Twitter.