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Elon Musk refuses to drop Russian news sources on Starlink

By , Senior news journalist
Africa , 07 Mar 2022
South African-born billionaire Elon Musk.
South African-born billionaire Elon Musk.

South African-born billionaire Elon Musk has refused to block Russian news sources on his Starlink satellites.

Musk announced the decision on Twitter, where he has over 76 million followers, saying he is a “free speech absolutist”.

Russian news sources have been suspended on major networks globally, including in SA, following Russia’s attack on its neighbour Ukraine.

In a tit-for-tat response, Russia has also blocked access to global social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Nonetheless, Musk says Starlink will not drop any of the Russian news sources on its network.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite internet access coverage. It is present in more than a dozen countries globally.

SpaceX, which began deploying Starlink satellites in 2019, reportedly envisions the success of the project to vastly expand the reach of broadband internet around the world, and eventually connect Tesla vehicles.

“Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint. Sorry to be a free speech absolutist,” Musk said.

Concurrently, the controversial businessman has deployed Starlink terminals to Ukraine to assist with connectivity after internet service was disrupted across the country by the ongoing war.

Musk confirmed that a shipment of Starlink ground terminals has been dispatched to Ukraine to provide satellite broadband service.

However, he cautioned there had been cyber attack attempts on the satellites, as well as efforts to jam the Starlink signal.

“Some Starlink terminals near conflict areas were being jammed for several hours at a time. Our latest software update bypasses the jamming. Am curious to see what’s next!”

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