Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused Elon Musk of "proto-fascism" on Thursday after he suspended journalists from Twitter for sharing private information about his plane travels.
What is the background?
Musk angered Democrats and the media after Twitter suspended several journalists for sharing private information about his plane travels. They were suspending for "doxxing." The problem is that Musk legally masks his plane data for his safety, which means that anyone sharing locatio movements that Musk seeks to keep private are, by definition, guilty of "doxxing."
"Same doxxing rules apply to 'journalists' as to everyone else," Musk said. "They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service."
What did AOC say?
The New York Democrat instructed Musk to put down his phone and stop his "abuse of power" over the social media platform that he owns outright.
"You’re a public figure. An extremely controversial and powerful one," Ocasio-Cortez began. "I get feeling unsafe, but descending into abuse of power + erratically banning journalists only increases the intensity around you.
"Take a beat and lay off the proto-fascism. Maybe try putting down your phone," she lectured.
In a follow up tweet, Ocasio-Cortez admitted she empathizes with feeling unsafe, but told Musk he should "disconnect."
"As someone who has been subject to real + dangerous plots, I do get it. I didn’t have security and have experienced many scary incidents," she said. "At a certain point you gotta disconnect."
How did Musk respond?
The second-richest person in the world fired back with a three-word response.
"You first lol," Musk wrote back, making light of Ocasio-Cortez's frequent use of Twitter.
The incident proves what Musk and other free speech advocates have been saying.
Democrats and the media generally approved of how the previous leadership at Twitter moderated content. Twitter, they argued, is not subject to the First Amendment like the government. Free speech advocates, on the other hand, sharply disagreed with Twitter's content moderation policies, arguing that Twitter is a "digital town square" and therefore should not be allowed to regulate who gets a voice on the platform and who does not.
If the media actually believe the suspensions will have a "chilling impact" on journalism (i.e., the First Amendment), then they are inadvertently agreeing with free speech absolutists about the nature of social media platforms.