Several journalists across various publications have found themselves unable to access their Twitter accounts tonight. They’ve been suspended on the website, and according to NBC News Senior Reporter Ben Collins, one thing they had in common was that they covered the social network and Elon Musk, who once described himself as a “free speech absolutist.” Collins listed the suspended journalists’ accounts on a Twitter thread, including CNN’sDonie O’Sullivan whose last tweets included his interview with Jack Sweeney, the college student who ran the @ElonJet account.
The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell lost his account following a tweet about how Twitter suspended Mastodon, its rival social network that’s been gaining popularity since Musk took over, after it posted a link to the account that tracked Musk’s private jet. The New York Times’Ryan Mac lost access to his account after talking about Sweeney and Twitter’s policy changes following @ElonJet’s suspension. Mashable’sMatt Binder also found himself suspended after retweeting a post doubting Musk’s claim that he and his son were followed by a “crazy stalker” and another about how Twitter’s new head of trust and safety invited a QAnon-adjacent group to discuss a partnership.
Next in the list is Micah Flee from The Intercept who recently tweeted: “So much more arbitrary censorship on Twitter since @elonmusk took over.” Sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann was suspended while one of Engadget’s editors was reading a thread on his account. Olbermann’s last tweets also included criticisms of Musk’s announcement that he’s taking legal action against Sweeney and Twitter’s policy changes after the suspension of the Musk’s stalker incident. Aaron Rupar, an independent journalist who was also suspended, posted a response on Substack and said he tweeted that the “@ElonJet account that was suspended from Twitter was still active on Facebook, with a link to the Facebook page.”
Rupar tells me he has “no idea” why it happened.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) December 16, 2022
As you can see, most of the banned accounts talked about Sweeney or linked to @ElonJet in some way. Before the account got permanently suspended, it tracked flights of Musk’s private jet using publicly available data. (Other accounts tracking the planes of government agencies and high-profile individuals got suspended, as well.) Musk announced a policy change for Twitter after the account’s suspension that prohibit’s the doxxing of real-time location info. In a response to that announcement, he said the car carrying his child was followed by a stalker. He also said that he is taking legal action against Sweeney and organizations “who supported harm to [his] family.”
We reached out to Twitter for a statement, and we’ll update this post when we hear back. But replying to a user saying they’ve confirmed that the suspended accounts linked to @ElonJet, Musk insinuated that they were booted off the website due to its new doxxing rules. He also said in a separate tweet that criticizing him “all day long is totally fine, but doxxing [his] real-time location and endangering [his] family is not.”
Same doxxing rules apply to “journalists” as to everyone else
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
Update: 12/15/22 10:50PM ET:The Washington Post Executive Editor Sally Buzbee released a statement via Mastodon saying that Harwell’s suspension “directly undermines Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.” CNN said it asked Twitter why the website banned journalists and would “reevaluate [its] relationship based on that response.” Meanwhile, Musk said on Twitter that accounts “engaged in doxxing receive a temporary 7 day suspension” as a response to his tweet insinuating that the journalists were banned due to the website’s new doxxing rules.
Update: 12/16/22 12:02AM ET: Elon Musk popped in at a Spaces chat where he was confronted by Drew Harwell.
Holy Shit. Elon Musk just popped into a Twitter Spaces chat with a bunch of journalists. He was called out by journalist Drew Harrell, who he banned, for lying about posting links to his private information, then leaves almost immediately after being pressed. Here is the exchange pic.twitter.com/wVA9Gb5MVJ
— Bradley Eversley (@ForeverEversley) December 16, 2022
Musk also posted a poll asking people to vote on when to reinstate accounts that “doxxed [his] exact location in real time” and then redid it due to having “too many options” while the option “now” was winning.