Twitter suspends accounts of journalists, some of whom wrote about Musk
SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter suspended the accounts of about half a dozen prominent journalists on Thursday, the social media service’s latest change under new owner Elon Musk.
Suspended accounts included Ryan Mac of The New York Times; Washington Post’s Drew Harwell; Aaron Rupar, freelance journalist; CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan; Matt Binder of Mashable; Tony Webster, freelance journalist; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and political journalist Keith Olbermann. It was unclear what the suspensions had in common; each user’s Twitter page included a message that they were suspending accounts that “violated Twitter’s rules”.
The moves came a day after Twitter suspended more than 25 accounts that tracked the planes of government agencies, billionaires and celebrities, including that of Mr Musk. Many of the accounts were run by Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old student and flight-tracking enthusiast who used Twitter to post updates on the location of Mr Musk’s private plane using publicly available information .
Last month, Mr Musk said he would allow the account that tracked his private plane to remain on Twitter, although he said it posed a security threat. “My commitment to free speech even goes so far as not to ban the account that follows my plane, even if it is a direct risk to personal safety,” he said in a tweet to . era.
But he changed his mind this week, after claiming a car one of his sons was traveling in had been accosted by a ‘crazy stalker’. Wednesday, Mr. Musk tweeted that any account that has posted “real-time location information about anyone will be suspended as a breach of physical security. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location information .
Learn more about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter
Some of the journalists whose accounts were suspended had written about the accounts that tracked the private planes or had tweeted about those accounts. Some have also written articles criticizing Mr. Musk and his ownership of Twitter. Many of them had tens of thousands of followers on the platform.
Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment and Twitter did not respond to an email for comment. In a tweet, Mr Musk said Twitter’s rules on ‘doxxing’ – which refers to sharing someone’s personal documents, including information such as their address – “apply to ‘journalists’ as well as everyone.” He did not specify.
“Tonight’s suspension of the Twitter accounts of a number of prominent journalists, including Ryan Mac of The New York Times, is questionable and unfortunate,” Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander said. “Neither the Times nor Ryan have received an explanation as to why this happened. We hope that all reporters’ accounts will be reinstated and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.
A representative for The Post did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Kristine Coratti Kelly, a spokeswoman for CNN, said the suspensions were “worrying but not surprising” and that “Twitter’s growing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern to anyone who uses it.” During an appearance on CNN after his account was suspended, Mr. O’Sullivan said Twitter’s actions could intimidate journalists who cover businesses owned by Mr. Musk.
“I was disappointed to see that I was suspended from Twitter without explanation,” said Mr. Webster, whose account was suspended, in an emailed comment. He added that he tweeted about the Twitter account that followed Mr Musk’s private plane before he was suspended.
Mr. Binder, the reporter for Mashable, said he criticized Mr. Musk but did not violate any of Twitter’s listed policies.
After his suspension from Twitter, Mr Sweeney turned to Mastodon, an alternative social network. After Mastodon used Twitter to promote Mr Sweeney’s new account on Thursday, Twitter suspended Mastodon’s account. As some journalists shared the news of Mastodon’s suspension, their own accounts were suspended.
Mr. Musk, who bought Twitter in October for $44 billion, said his takeover would expand free speech on the platform and allow more people to participate in the public conversation. In recent weeks, he has allowed some banned users back on the platform, including former President Donald J. Trump, who was banned from his account after the Jan. 6, 2021 riots on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Musk said in October that he would form a board to advise him on policy issues before making any changes to the company’s content moderation policies. The council did not materialize. This week, Mr. Musk disbanded a trust and safety advisory group that had guided Twitter on thorny issues like child harassment and exploitation.
“I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter because that’s what freedom of speech means,” Musk tweeted in April, shortly after announcing his intention to buy the company.
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