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X Platform Offers Conflicting Explanations After Sudden Purge of Journalists

FILE – A view of a laptop shows the Twitter sign-in page with their the new logo, in Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, July 24, 2023. IBM has stopped advertising on social media platform X, Thursday, Nov. 16, after a report that its ads were appearing alongside material praising Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, in a fresh setback for the company’s plans to win back big brands and their ad dollars.

Some of the X accounts appeared to have been reinstated by Tuesday afternoon. The mass suspension comes after a media report detailing CEO Elon Musk’s recreational drug use.Users of the X (formerly Twitter) social media platform responded indignantly to the sudden suspension of several high-profile journalists and influencers Tuesday morning. Some of the accounts were gradually reinstated by early afternoon amid speculation over what prompted the purge.“I woke up and had missed a call from a journalist who wanted to talk to me about my suspension,” said Texas Observer reporter Steven Monacelli, who reports from X CEO Elon Musk’s home state. “So I was informed via other journalists who had called and emailed me this morning about it.“Dear [Elon Musk], we’d like to know why our reporter, Steven Monacelli… was suspended from this platform,” posted the account for the Texas Observer on X, tagging the profiles for the platform’s support team and the mercurial CEO.

Observers struggled to determine why the prominent accounts, which also included The Intercept reporter Ken Klippenstein and left-wing influencer @zei_squirrel, were banned. The users were greeted with X’s boilerplate notice that the platform suspends accounts that break its rules, although no further clarification was offered.“We do sweeps for spam/scam accounts and sometimes real accounts get caught up in them,” posted Musk after multiple users sought an explanation for the purge. But many noted the common thread of the banned accounts’ criticism of Israel and progressive politics.@Zei_squirrel responded angrily to the snafu on Instagram, writing, “I was just now in the middle of writing a thread about Bill Ackman’s depravity and lies, and I suddenly got a notice that I can no longer post because I am suspended.”

“I suspect it is because I have been exposing the propaganda of the genocidal Israeli regime and its supporters, including recently Bill Ackman, who is absolutely deranged in his fervor to ban any criticism of him,” added the influencer. “It is actually insane that you have the most deranged racists running around on Twitter with no issue, including explicit anti-Semites and Islamophobes, but I get banned for exposing Israeli regime propaganda… Elon Musk is deranged.”

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has been engaged in a campaign to doxx and intimidate pro-Palestine activists on college campuses. Musk visited government officials in Israel last November after making comments on X widely viewed as antisemitic, which Ackman defended.

Some critics charge Musk demonstrated a bias in favor of Israel after he announced after the visit that describing the country’s actions as colonial would be a bannable offense on the platform.

“Looks like @elonmusk is taking off the free speech mask,” remarked former lawmaker Adam Kinzinger after the abrupt banning of accounts Tuesday morning.Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist.” First Amendment advocates responded favorably when Musk announced the X platform would no longer “shadowban” accounts, as it was revealed the platform had done under previous management despite frequent assurances to the contrary.‘You Dox, You Get Suspended’: Musk Defends Banning of Twitter Accounts Critical of Him16 December 2022, 18:24 GMTBut critics allege X is still artificially manipulating content served up on the platform. The X account for Sputnik International, despite having hundreds of thousands of followers, generally receives little interaction with its posts.It’s been previously revealed that the X platform has aided US intelligence agencies in covert propaganda campaigns among US and foreign audiences.

The platform under Musk’s management engaged in a mass purge of reporters once before. At that time, many of the journalists were observed to have been critical of Musk in their reporting.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal published an article noting that Tesla shareholders were concerned about Musk’s erratic behavior and regular illegal drug use.

“Remember, you can follow us off of this hellsite,” posted the account for the Texas Observer Tuesday morning. The newspaper listed their accounts on the Threads, Bluesky, and decentralized Mastodon platforms.

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