Elon Musk has restored the Twitter accounts of several journalists suspended by a controversy over publishing data on the plane.
After the unusual suspensions, stinging criticism was elicited by government officials, advocacy group and journalists organizations from many parts of the world on Friday. Some said that the microblogging platform threatened press freedom.
Musk later conducted a Twitter poll that showed that the majority wanted their accounts to be restored right away.
“The people spoke. Musk tweeted that accounts who didxxed my area will be lifted immediately.
Twitter didn’t immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment. A Reuters search showed that the accounts were reinstated, including those of journalists from CNN, New York Times and Washington Post.
The suspensions were earlier condemned by officials from France, Germany and Britain as well as the European Union.
Critics are calling the episode “Thursday Night Massacre” by a well-known security researcher. It is seen as new evidence Musk’s stance on free speech, eliminating all speech from users and individuals he dislikes.
Tesla shares, an electric vehicle maker headed by Musk, plunged 4.7% Friday. It posted its worst weekly loss in a week. Investors are increasingly worried about Musk’s distraction and the slowing global economy.
French Minister of Industry Roland Lescure tweeted Friday, saying that Musk had suspended journalists and that he would now suspend all his activity on Twitter.
Melissa Fleming (head of communications at the United Nations) tweeted that she is “deeply disturbed by these suspensions” and that media freedom “is not a toy.”
Twitter was warned by the German Foreign Office that there were problems with certain moves made by the ministry that could jeopardize press freedom.
These suspensions were caused by a dispute over ElonJet’s Twitter account. It tracked Musk’s private plane with publicly available data.
Twitter banned the account along with others who tracked private planes on Wednesday, despite Musk having previously tweeted that he wouldn’t suspend ElonJet for free speech.
Twitter soon changed their privacy policies to ban the sharing of live location information.
On Thursday night, Twitter was suspended without notice for several journalists including those from CNN, Washington Post and New York Times.
Ella Irwin (Twitter’s Head of Trust and Safety) sent a message to Reuters overnight stating that the team had manually reviewed all accounts in violation of the new privacy policies by linking to ElonJet.
Irwin stated in an email that while I understand the emphasis on journalist accounts, the policy was applied equally to nonjournalist accounts.
In a Friday statement, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing stated that Twitter’s actions violate the First Amendment and that it will permit the free and unfiltered dissemination of information already available in public.
Musk claimed that journalists posted his location which was “basically assassination coordinates”, for Musk’s family.
A Twitter Spaces audio chat was hosted briefly by Musk. This quickly became a heated discussion over whether or not the journalists who were suspended had indeed exposed Musk’s location, in contravention of policy.
Musk said repeatedly, “If you do dox, then you are suspended.” Musk repeatedly stated, “End of story,” in answer to repeated questions. Dox is an acronym for publishing personal information, often with malicious intent.
Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, who was suspended by Musk but still managed to participate in the audio chat, refuted the idea that he had revealed Musk’s location or the family through a link to ElonJet.
Shortly thereafter, Katie Notopoulos (BombFeed reporter) tweeted that Spaces chat host was abruptly cut short and that no recording had been made.
Musk tweeted to explain what had happened and said, “We’re fixing the Legacy bug.” Musk should be at work tomorrow.