Musk appears to be hand-crafting Twitter’s policies based not on academic research or expert opinion, but on caprice and personal vendetta. Musk, for instance, dissolved Twitter’s so-called “Trust and Safety Council,” a group comprised of outside experts meant to help monitor online harassment, human rights, and child exploitation, among other things.

And now Musk claims that not only did Sweeney violate Twitter’s rules—which Twitter formally introduced after it suspended Sweeney’s account—but also that he broke the law.

“Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood. Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family.” (To translate: “lil X” refers to Musk’s son X Æ A-Xii Musk.)

The connection to Sweeney doesn’t quite add up: @ElonJet last tweeted that Musk’s plane arrived in Los Angeles on Monday night. Musk claimed that his stalker attacked on Tuesday night.

And while it’s deplorable that anyone would physically attack Musk or his family, Sweeney’s automated account only tweeted Musk’s jet arrival location—like it has done after every flight Musk has taken for two years—based on publicly available data. Still, it’s likely Sweeney will face the wrath of the world’s richest man—or second-richest man, actually—and his lawyers very soon.

Free speech is whatever Elon Musk says it is 

Musk promised that Twitter would not only be a haven for free speech, but would also whittle its content moderation policies down to a nub. “By ‘free speech’, I simply mean that which matches the law,” Musk tweeted in April, one day after inking his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.

But Musk isn’t helming an anything-goes, laissez-faire playground. He promised advertisers that Twitter wouldn’t become a “hellscape,” for instance. Instead, he seems to be using his control of Twitter to exact revenge on his enemies—even when they’re 20-year-old college students.

There is a legal term called a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or a SLAPP. It’s essentially when a public official sues someone to stop them from expressing their first amendment-protected speech. (Picture a political candidate suing a newspaper columnist for writing critical opinions about them.) These lawsuits are designed to intimidate critics and chill free speech. 32 states and Washington DC have passed anti-SLAPP laws to clamp down on this kind of behavior. If Musk sues Sweeney, he’ll likely find out that California and Florida both have anti-SLAPP laws already on the books.

Twitter has a legal right under the first amendment to moderate content as it sees fit—even if those decisions seem unfair to outside critics or affected users. While Musk’s policies and enforcement might be hypocritical and vengeful, they aren’t illegal. But Musk’s legal threats are serious. They pose a threat not only to Sweeney, but to everyone who criticizes him on his own platform.

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