Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) had a strong message for Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Thursday as he went on an account banning spree on the platform: step back from “proto-fascism” and stop lobbing false accusations of doxing at journalists.
“You’re a public figure. An extremely controversial and powerful one,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter in response to Musk claiming, without evidence, that he has been a target of “assassination” threats. “I get feeling unsafe, but descending into abuse of power and erratically banning journalists only increases the intensity around you.”
“Take a beat and lay off the proto-fascism,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “Maybe try putting down your phone.”
This week, Musk banned an account, @ElonJet, that has, for years, shared the coordinates of the right-wing billionaire’s private jet. Flight locations — even those of private planes — are part of the public record and can be looked up by anyone, at any time. The ElonJet account was run by a fan of Musk’s who appears to remain fond of the billionaire, even after the account was banned.
Musk proceeded to ban several prominent journalists who have covered him critically. He also banned social media competitor Mastodon, where many Twitter users are fleeing to, and is blocking links to the site.
Over the past day, in attempts to justify his decision to ban ElonJet and the journalists’ accounts, he has claimed that the accounts have doxed him, meaning that they revealed his location — ignoring that the flight records are public already. In a Twitter Space live chat with some of the banned journalists, a defensive Musk said, “You dox, you get suspended. End of story, that’s it.”
However, Musk doesn’t appear to really care about doxing — at least not for anyone other than himself. During his crackdown on accounts that he viewed as critical of him, he posted a video of a person’s masked face and their license plate number asking his 121.6 million followers if they could identify the person — which fits the definition of doxing. Twitter is also, under his direction, working on a plan to force users to share their location data with the company, which raises vast privacy concerns.
Despite purporting to give Twitter users a say in what happens with the platform, the billionaire has also thus far refused to reinstate the banned accounts — even though he found in two separate polls that most users wanted the accounts reinstated.
Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that she has been the subject of violent threats and doxing from the same right-wing figures and outlets that Musk has been uplifting in his months owning Twitter — figures that are far, far more likely to carry out acts of violence than those on the left.
“As someone who has been subject to real and dangerous plots, I do get it. I didn’t have security and have experienced many scary incidents. In fact, many of the right-wing outlets you now elevate published photos of my home, car, etc. At a certain point you gotta disconnect,” she said.
In response to a user who said that someone should link Ocasio-Cortez’s location in real time to “see how she feels” — something that, notably, does not appear to be happening to Musk — Ocasio-Cortez said, “It happens literally all the time.”
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