Steve Herrmann woke up on Friday with a reflex each morning, “picking up the phone and tweeting breaking news” to his 112,000 followers. “Until I remember my account was permanently suspended,” he said noon, Washington time, in a phone conversation with EL PAÍS. “I felt like someone who had lost an arm and could still feel it.” A journalist with long experience in Asia who serves as the chief national correspondent for Voice of America, a news service dependent on the US government, to his extensive resume he can add since Thursday night after Elon Musk kicked him out of Twitter, along with, at least nine other journalists. They were not notified or given an explanation. By joining the dots, what seems to catch them is that recently they have been crucial in one way or another to the businessman and his management of the social network, which he acquired in October for $44 billion.
Musk accused them of that doxx it, a new term that defines the act of disclosing another user’s personal information on the Internet in a malicious way. So, he included them in the bag of a tweeter named Jack Sweeney, who maintained an account, now permanently suspended, called @Elonjet, which revealed the whereabouts of his private jet in real time. It was followed by half a million users. “Beating at me all day is fine, but sharing my family’s location and putting them in danger is not,” Musk wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Ask. Did he do what Musk accuses him of?
Answer. No. This is completely wrong. doxxear It means disclosing private information with malicious intent. I did not do that. And neither did the rest of the reporters. They have linked or discussed an Elonjet account. But these journalists, myself included, did not disclose Musk’s real-time location. In my time as White House Correspondent, I’ve shared the website of the President of the United States several times. It was general information. Musk is a public figure. He owns Twitter, and whether he likes it or not, the perks of being a public figure come with some intense scrutiny.
s. Were you surprised to get a red card?
R was found. drowned me in shock from which I have not yet recovered. But I wasn’t surprised. I was tweeting about the expelled comrades, and it was my turn. I think I’ve snowballed down the hill.
s. You are not a technology reporter.
R was found. No, but I tweet. Musk is clearly part of Twitter. Since August, I’ve written about it several times
s. Did you have time to save your tweets?
R was found. In anticipation of what could happen, I made a backup 2 weeks ago.
s. Musk conducted a survey to see if Twitter users wanted them to return to the platform right away. If they open the door for him, will he come back?
R was found. First thing: the survey seems irrelevant to me. Whether it’s 10% or 90%, Musk will do whatever he wants. If they restore me to my position, I will return as long as there are no conditions. In the past, they have forced expellees to delete or filter certain tweets. This is not where I go. I have not tweeted anything that violates any rules or any laws. Of course, it’s hard to tell, because the rules on Musk’s Twitter change every hour.
s. This is what happens when you build a public square on a private reservation and it ends up in the hands of someone like Musk.
R was found. He can decide what the rules are, and we agree on that, but it would be nice to know what they are, and decide if he wants us there. If you don’t want journalists, say so. We will go somewhere else. I created my insurance policy weeks ago by creating accounts on other social media platforms such as Mastodon. Last night he had 3,100 followers. Now, 21,000. There is life after Twitter.
s. Do you think Musk defends freedom of expression?
R was found. No, I think the facts speak for themselves.
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