Twitter suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists on Thursday night. Many of them covered the controversial acquisition of the company by Elon Musk. After facing backlash, Musk decided to reactivate most (but not all) of the suspended accounts by the next day.
The journalist was not given an initial explanation for his suspension, but Musk quickly claimed that the journalist he suspended was “exposing” him or revealing his personal information online. flight data.
The suspended journalists include CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, The New York Times’ Ryan Mack, Mashable’s Matt Binder and The Intercept’s Micary Lee. The sudden purge appeared to contradict Musk’s stated commitment to protecting free speech on Twitter, with Musk using his power on Twitter to criticize the company. Concerns arose that they were silencing reporters who were writing negative articles.friday, twitter Lynette Lopez’s account has also been suspended.a Business Insider journalist who wrote an investigative report on Tesla.
Twitter reinstated most previously banned accounts of journalists on Friday night. The move comes after Musk received press backlash from the United Nations, US lawmakers, the press, and other groups concerned that Musk was stifling press freedom.
Ahead of the decision to reinstate the journalist, Musk also took two polls on his Twitter account, with a majority of people voting to reinstate the journalist’s account immediately. Accounts that have been made public will be unsuspended immediately.” Mr. Musk tweetedon Friday evening. But two journalists suspended in Musk’s latest crackdown, Business Insider’s Lopez and Keith Olbermann, remained suspended as of Saturday morning.
For independent journalist and former Vox reporter Aaron Rupar, being suspended from Twitter came as a shock.
“I was very perplexed,” Ruper said when he started receiving messages from other journalists saying he had been suspended. Overnight, Rupar lost access to 790,000 followers. He said he received no warning before being kicked out: “Basically, you have to follow the ever-changing whims of the platform owner. That seems pretty unsustainable. It seems mean.
Several of the suspended journalists, including Ruper, recently posted a discussion about @ElonJet — the Twitter account that used publicly available flight data to track the whereabouts of Musk’s private aircraft. Musk changed his Twitter rules to prohibit sharing “live location” to suspend the account, claiming the account was a threat to his physical safety. Musk tweeted that the account posted his “exact real-time location, basically the coordinates of the assassination.” Jack Sweeney, his 20-year-old account owner of @ElonJet, claims that information about Elon Musk’s jet has already been made public. “If someone wants to do something, they can do it without me,” he told The New York Times. Some journalists, such as Rupar, recently tweeted @ElonJet’s link to another of his Facebook accounts.
Musk recently tweeted that a “crazy stalker” chased a car carrying young child X and jumped on the hood. Musk said the owner of the ElonJet account is taking legal action for endangering his family’s safety. The Los Angeles Police Department told news outlets on Thursday that no police report had yet been filed about the alleged incident.
Hours after the reporter was suspended, some used Twitter’s Spaces feature to participate in live audio conversations, discussing what was going on. At its peak, over 30,000 people listened when Musk briefly joined the conversation. In Spaces, Musk debated with a journalist, claiming that posting a link to a flight-tracking website was the same as posting his address directly, which he believed was doxxing.
“In the future, there will be no distinction between so-called journalists and ordinary people,” Musk said. “You dox, you are suspended. End of story.”
“I never posted your address,” Harwell of The Washington Post told Musk.
Musk interrupted, “You posted a link to my address.”
“I posted a link. In the process of reporting ElonJet, I posted a link to ElonJet, which is now banned on Twitter, not online.”
Shortly after the exchange, Musk left Spaces, and Twitter reportedly shut down Spaces functionality entirely, cutting off the journalist’s chats.later musk murmured“Fixing legacy bugs. Should be at work tomorrow.”
While some of the deplatformed journalists were initially told the suspension was permanent, Musk later said the suspension for doxing was only temporary, with those who doxed being given seven days. Said it would be stopped automatically.Musk too Voted on his Twitter account When asked how long to wait before reinstating journalists, Musk said when a majority of people voted to reinstate journalists immediately. ran another poll with less optionsNearly 60% of respondents again voted to reinstate the journalist immediately.
On Thursday night, a number of journalists expressed concern over Twitter’s decision. The move may encourage more reporters and media to leave Twitter and try to use other platforms such as Mastodon, Discord or Post.
As Washington Post tech columnist Taylor Lorenz puts it: “If the press censors journalists, I don’t understand how they continue to use this platform.”
Both CNN and The New York Times said they had sent statements to Recode accusing Twitter of suspending the reporter’s account and were seeking clarification from the company.
“The impulsive and unjustified suspensions of many reporters, including CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, are worrying but not surprising,” a CNN spokesperson said in an email. “Twitter’s increased instability and volatility is a major concern for everyone who uses Twitter. We have sought clarification from Twitter and will reassess our relationship based on their response.”
“It is suspicious and unfortunate that the Twitter accounts of a number of high-profile journalists, including Ryan Mack of The New York Times, have been suspended tonight. Neither the Times nor Ryan have received any explanation as to why this happened. “We hope that all journalists’ accounts will be reinstated and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this behavior,” a New York Times spokesperson said in a statement.
The move also angered politicians. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Massachusetts) tweeted early Thursday morning that Twitter staff pledged not to retaliate against journalists and academics who criticize the company. “In less than 12 hours, multiple tech reporters have been suspended. What’s wrong, @elonmusk?”
In Europe, EU Commissioner Vera Jourova said Musk’s suspension violated the EU’s Digital Services Act and Media Freedom Act. “There is a red line. And sanctions soon,” she said. tweeted on friday morning.
Meanwhile, suspended journalists are still waiting for news about exactly when their accounts will be reopened.
Rupar said he tried to use the platform’s automated system to appeal Twitter’s suspension, but the link was broken.
“I think that’s the lesson here for outlets and individual journalists. It’s good to diversify to other platforms,” he said. The Twitter purge “would horrify critics of Elon.”
Peter Kafka contributed reporting for this article.
Update, December 17th at 12:00 PM ET: This article was originally published on Dec. 15, but has been updated with the news that Musk has reinstated several previously suspended journalist accounts.