Recently, Elon Musk’s X/Twitter has been in the news for suspending numerous accounts belonging to left-wing journalists and bloggers. The action, initiated between Monday night and Tuesday, has stirred debate and prompted worries about free speech on the platform.
Civil rights lawyer Alejandra Caraballo was among the initial observers to report on this extensive suspension wave. She identified several impacted accounts, including notable individuals like Ken Klippenstein from The Intercept, Steven Zetti (also known as Steven Monacelli) from the Texas Observer, blogger Rob Rousseau, and the account associated with the TrueAnonPod podcast. Caraballo highlighted that most of these suspensions impacted accounts that were critical of Elon Musk and Bill Ackman, raising concerns about potentially suppressing dissenting voices by Musk.
When contacted for comment, X provided an automated reply stating they were too busy to respond. This lack of communication left many suspended users without any explanation for their accounts being taken down. Steven Zetti, for example, mentioned that he had written critical reports about Twitter/X and Elon Musk in the past but did not receive any clarification about his suspension.
The Texas Observer, where Zetti is a correspondent, expressed concern over his suspension and the lack of warning or explanation. They also called out Musk and X on their official social media accounts, demanding a reason for the suspension. The Observer, known for its critical stance on Musk and X, even encouraged its readers to follow them on alternative platforms, distancing themselves from what they referred to as a “hellsite.”
Observers were quick to note that the suspended accounts were critical of Musk but also U.S. foreign policy and Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. This led to speculation that political motivations may have driven the suspensions.
Notably, this is not the first time Musk has faced backlash for suspending accounts on his platform. In October 2022, Musk acquired Twitter for a whopping $44 billion and declared himself a “free speech absolutist.” However, in December of the same year, he faced criticism for purging several high-profile journalists from the platform. After a strong public reaction, he reinstated most suspended accounts, claiming they were mistakenly caught in spam and scam account sweeps.
As the fallout from this recent wave of suspensions continues, it remains to be seen how X/Twitter will address the concerns raised about freedom of speech and the potential silencing of critics. The platform’s future actions will undoubtedly shape its reputation and determine whether it can truly become the haven for free speech that Musk envisioned.