Twitter suspended several accounts of prominent journalists who had recently written about Elon Musk. The billionaire tweeted that Twitter rules prohibiting the publication of personal data applied to everyone, even journalists.
Musk responded to the tweet about account suspensions. He has previously described himself as an absolute freedom-loving absolutist.
Musk tweeted about Twitter’s Wednesday suspension @elonjet. This account tracks Musk’s private plane in real-time using public data. Musk threatened to sue the operator of the account, claiming that his son was being misled by a stalker.
Uncertain if any of the journalists who had their accounts suspended commented or shared information about @elonjet was known.
Musk posted on Thursday, “Criticizing my all day is fine. But doxxing me in real time and endangering the family is not.”
Last month, he tweeted that his support for free speech included “even not banning my account following my flight”, even though it was a risk to personal safety.
On Thursday, he tweeted that doxxing would be suspended for seven days. He then followed that tweet up by a poll inviting Twitter users to vote about when they should reinstate doxxed accounts.
After the results revealed that 43% of those surveyed voted to reinstate the accounts, he said he’d redo the poll. This was the highest percentage for any option.
Twitter didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment.
These suspensions reflect the chaotic Twitter actions since Musk assumed control. There have been rapid firings and thousands of employees.
According to Ella Irwin (its new trust and safety head), Twitter relies heavily on automated content moderation. This includes removing some manual reviews. It also favors restrictions over distribution, rather than censoring certain speech.
Drew Harwell, Washington Post journalist (@drewharwell) was one of the journalists suspended Thursday. He wrote on Mastodon about Musk’s recent writing and linked to legally obtained data.
Twitter suspended Mastodon’s official Twitter account (@joinmastodon), as well. This alternative has been created. Mastodon was not available for comment immediately.
Sally Buzbee (executive editor of the Post) stated that Harwell’s suspension corroborates Musk’s claim that he wanted Twitter to be a platform for free speech.
Harwell was however able to participate in a Twitter space conversation with other journalists on Thursday night, which Musk briefly joined.
Musk said, “You dox, and you are suspended.” Musk stated that the end of the story was over. Harwell, however, rejected Musk’s claim that he had revealed Musk’s true-time location. He said that Musk had only posted about @elonjet.
Twitter changed its policy to prohibit the sharing “live location information” on Wednesday.
Ryan Mac, Times reporter and CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan (@donie), Matt Binder, Mashable reporter @MattBinder and Aaron Rupar (@atrupar), independent journalist covering U.S. politics and policy were all also removed.
Mac posted several Twitter threads about the suspension of @elonjet and interview Jack Sweeney (20 years old), the operator of the account.
The spokesperson for The New York Times said that the suspensions were “questionable” and “unfortunate”. Ryan and The Times have not received an explanation as to why it happened. We wish that the accounts of all journalists are restored and that Twitter offers a satisfactory explanation.
CNN stated that it asked Twitter to explain the suspensions, and will reevaluate its relationship to the platform on the basis of the response.