Elon Musk's Twitter abruptly suspends several journalists who cover Elon Musk and Twitter
Twitter suspended the accounts of reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and several other news organizations Thursday evening, without explanation. Most of the suspended journalists cover Twitter and its new owner, Elon Musk, and Musk suggested on Twitter that the suspensions were tied to his new policy of not posting the real-time location of his private jet, or any user's "live location information."
Twitter on Wednesday banned the automated flight-tracking account @elonjet and its creator, 20-year-old Jack Sweeney. Musk blamed that account for a "crazy stalker" purportedly harassing a car carrying his young son through Los Angeles, though he didn't explain the connection.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan said he was banned from Twitter after posting a screenshot of a Los Angeles Police Department statement that no such crime had been reported. Mashable tech reporter Matt Binder said his account was suspended after he posted a screenshot of O'Sullivan's tweet. "I did not share any location data, as per Twitter's new terms," Binder told The Associated Press. "Nor did I share any links to ElonJet or other location tracking accounts."
"Musk seems to be just stamping out accounts that he doesn't like," O'Sullivan said on CNN.
Twitter informed several of the reporters that their accounts are "permanently" suspended, but hasn't explained why. Musk tweeted that criticizing him is fine but "doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not"; that the "same doxxing rules apply to 'journalists' as to everyone else"; and that the suspended journalists "posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service." He also suggested the accounts would be suspended for seven days.
"None of the tweets from suspended reporters that the Post has reviewed revealed the location of Musk or his family," The Washington Post reports.
The Post, the Times, CNN, and the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists all criticized Twitter's opaque and seemingly arbitrary suspension of journalists, especially given Musk's avowed commitment to "free speech."
"It's impossible to square Twitter's free speech aspirations with the purging of critical journalists' accounts," ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement. "The First Amendment protects Musk's right to do this, but it's a terrible decision." Paul Barrett, at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, called the suspensions "surely the dumbest and most hypocritical move Elon Musk has made as owner and 'Chief Twit.'"
The journalists suspended Thursday included Ryan Mac at the Times, Drew Harwell at the Post, Voice of America's Steve Herman, Micah Lee of The Intercept, and independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olberman, and Tony Webster.