The bans came without warning or explanation from Twitter. It comes a day after Twitter changed its policy on sharing “live location information” and suspended the @ElonJet account that used public flight data to share the location of Musk’s private jet.
Many of the journalists suspended Thursday, including Washington Post tech reporter Drew Harwell, were covering the rule change, as well as Musk’s claims that he and his family were at risk because of the location sharing.
Twitter did not directly respond to questions about the suspensions. But Musk suggested on Twitter, without evidence, that journalists had leaked personal information about his family, known as doxxing. “It’s perfectly fine to criticize me all day, but not to interfere in real time and put my family in danger” tweeted late Thursday.
Harwell covering his latest stories @ElonJet ban and The rise of conspiracy theories on Twitteron Thursday around 7:30 p.m., he discovered that he was unable to log into his account or tweet.
“Harwell was banned from Twitter without warning, process or explanation following the publication of his accurate reporting on Musk,” The Post’s executive editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement. “Our journalist should be reinstated immediately”
At least eight other journalists, including New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac, were suspended the same evening.
CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan was suspended shortly after tweeting about Musk’s claim that a “crazy stalker” was stalking his young son in Los Angeles, according to screenshots.
When Mashable reporter Matt Binder tweeted about O’Sullivan’s suspension, his account was also blacked out.
Independent journalist Tony Webster’s account was also suspended late Thursday. So were former MSNBC host Keith Olberman’s accounts; Journalist Micah Lee; Voice of America Senior National Correspondent Steve Herman; and Aaron Rupar, a Substack writer with nearly 800,000 Twitter followers.
“Twitter’s desire for free speech cannot be met by purging the accounts of critical journalists,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects Musk’s right to do this, but it’s a terrible decision. Their accounts should be restored immediately.”
According to two former employees in contact with Twitter staff, the account bans were labeled as “Ella’s direction” in Twitter’s internal systems. Ella Irwin, the company’s head of trust and security, has carried out many of Musk’s orders since buying the company in late October, and has begun to improve its policies on what she calls “free speech.”
The previous stop was marked “Elon direction”.
Musk tweeted late Thursday that the suspensions would last a week, though several reporters had been told by Twitter that they were permanently banned. He took it later that night twitter poll when he should restore the accounts – but restarted it after many respondents said he should do so immediately.
Musk also reiterated his baseless claim that journalists have disclosed personal information about his family.
“The same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” he said in another tweet. “They published my exact real-time location, basically conspiracy coordinates🇧🇷
Around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Musk joined a Twitter Spaces chat — essentially a public conference call — with several journalists, including some who have been banned, where he repeated his claim that he had been “doxed.”
Journalists objected to him in this regard.
“You’re suggesting we share your address, which is not true,” Harwell said.
Musk replied: “You sent a link to the address.”
Harwell responded: “While reporting on @ElonJet, we posted a link to @ElonJet, which is now offline.”
Musk abruptly left about four minutes into the call.
Musk He bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October and quickly began to reverse many of the previous administration’s policies against hate speech and misinformation. moved to restored former president Donald Trump and other accounts were suspended under previous management, saying Twitter’s new policy was “freedom of speech, but not freedom of expression.”
But Musk already had Twitter banned some high-profile accounts Thursday before the visible cleanup.
On Wednesday, @ElonJet was permanently suspended despite a tweet from Musk weeks ago saying he would continue to do so as part of his “commitment to free speech.”
the same day new twitter policy banned Sharing “live location information, including information shared directly on Twitter or … links to travel routes, actual physical location, or other identifiable information that would reveal a person’s location, whether or not that information is publicly available.”
Again, none of the tweets from the suspended reporters The Post reviewed revealed the location of Musk or his family.
Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) He wrote on Twitter On Thursday night, his staff met with Twitter officials that day. “They told us that they will not retaliate against independent journalists or researchers who criticize the platform. In less than 12 hours, many tech reporters were suspended.
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists assessed the suspensions in its statement:
“We are concerned about the suspension of the accounts of journalists covering recent events involving Twitter and its owner Elon Musk. If confirmed as retaliation for their work, it would be a serious violation of journalists’ right to disseminate news without fear of reprisal.”
A New York Times spokesman called the suspensions “suspicious and unfortunate” in a statement Thursday evening.
“Neither The Times nor Ryan received any explanation as to why this happened,” Charlie Stadtlander said. “We hope that all journalists’ accounts will be restored and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.”
In a company statement, CNN called the firing of O’Sullivan and other journalists “impulsive and unjustified” and said it was demanding an explanation from Twitter. “We will reassess our relationship based on this response.”
Faiz Siddiqui, Joseph Menn and Elahe Izadi contributed to this report.
Leave a Comment