Several journalists who covered Elon Musk were suspended from Twitter late Thursday, days after an account tracking the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet was also banned from the platform.
Among those whose accounts were suspended are Ryan Mac of the New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Matt Binder of Mashable, Drew Harwell of the Washington Post, political pundit Keith Olbermann and Steve Herman of the funded Voice of America by the government Musk suggested late Thursday that the suspensions would be temporary.
Harwell’s last post before being suspended was about Twitter taking down the account of one of its competitors, Mastodon, for posting a link to its own version of the @ElonJet account that tracked Musk’s plane . according to a tweet by NBC News reporter Ben Collins. (Mastodon’s Twitter account was also suspended on Thursday.)
of Olbermann last tweet asked people to recreate Harwell’s post word for word and a link to an article by freelance journalist Aaron Rupar, whose account was also suspended, criticizing Musk for his “populist cosplay” while he was one of the most rich people of the world
“Without commenting on any specific account, I can confirm that we will suspend accounts that violate our privacy policies and put other users at risk,” Twitter’s head of trust and safety Ella Irwin told the Verge via email.
On Wednesday, Twitter announced a policy update which prohibited the sharing of “live location information, including information shared directly to Twitter or links to third-party URLs of travel routes.”
“We don’t make exceptions to this policy for reporters or any other account,” Irwin told The Verge.
Venture capitalist Mike Solana suggested in a tweet that posting a link to any version of the @ElonJet tracker appeared to result in a suspension, to which Musk responded: “The same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as everyone else.”
He later he tweeted“Accounts engaged in doxxing receive a 7-day temporary suspension.”
It appears suspended accounts may still be able to participate in Twitter Spaces, as several of the banned journalists discussed the news in a live audio chat room Thursday night.
Musk joined in briefly to confirm that posting a link to a page that provided real-time location tracking, such as @ElonJet, was “prohibited circumvention” and no different from directly posting locations live
“Show the link to real-time information, prohibit evasion,” Musk said. “Dox, you’re suspended, end of story, that’s it.”
Banned Washington Post tech reporter Harwell, who was also in the chat room, responded: “That’s reporting…there’s informational value in public data.”
Binder said Thursday that he was suspended immediately after O’Sullivan shared a screenshot of “an official LAPD statement about the incident that Elon Musk was tweeting about last night that led to him suspending ElonJet and its creator Jack Sweeney.”
“I did not share any location data, per Twitter’s new terms. I also did not share any links to ElonJet or other location-tracking accounts,” Binder said. “I’ve been very critical of Musk, but I never broke any of Twitter’s policies.”
Rupar wrote on his Substack in the afternoon that he didn’t know what rule he might have broken.
“I posted a tweet yesterday indicating that the ElonJet account that was suspended from Twitter was still active on Facebook, with a link to the Facebook page,” Rupar said. “Maybe he did, but I still don’t know what policy he might have violated.”
Mac tweeted from a newly created account that he was given no warning or explanation about his suspension.
“Report to Twitter, Elon Musk and his companies. And I will continue to do so,” he tweeted. Collins confirmed in a tweet that the new account, @MacSilenced, was the real Mac.
Charlie Stadtlander, director of communications for the New York Times, he told NBC News“We hope that all journalists’ accounts will be reinstated and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.”
CNN called the suspension of O’Sullivan and other reporters “impulsive and unjustified” and said in a statement who has asked for explanations on Twitter.
The nine or more accounts banned Thursday night aren’t the first to be taken down after tweeting about Musk.
The @ElonJet account was previously suspended due to a policy update that prohibits sharing live location information, was briefly reinstated, and deleted again despite Musk’s earlier promise to leave the account alone.
“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account after my plane, even though this is a direct risk to personal safety,” Musk said. in a november 6 tweets.
Musk, a free-speech absolutist, has vowed to make sweeping changes to the social media platform once his control of the company ends. He criticized Twitter’s ban on certain types of speech and questioned whether those rules undermined democracy.
Last month, Twitter reinstated the account of former President Trump, who was suspended in January for his role in inciting a violent riot at the US Capitol. Under Musk, the company also restored the accounts of other controversial users, including conservative Canadian podcaster Jordan Peterson and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
Jameel Jaffer, executive director of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, called the suspensions “reckless and vindictive” given Musk’s talk of free speech.
“It’s a sad and disturbing thing that someone so obviously unfit for responsibility has so much power over public discourse online,” Jaffer said.