New Twitter CEO, Elon Musk, has suspended the accounts of several journalists covering Twitter and Musk’s activities. Musk said the journalists’ accounts were banned for “doxxing” his family by sharing their locations publicly in real-time, an activity he said could imperil his safety and that of his family.
Some of the news reporters suspended on Twitter include Ryan Mac of The New York Times, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, The Intercept’s Micha Lee, Mashable’s Matt Binder, former Vox’s Aaron Rupar, former MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, VOA’s Steve Herman, and Tony Webster among others.
Social media rival Mastodon’s Twitter account was also suspended, as well as any Twitter accounts posting links to other sites that publish Musk’s whereabouts on land and on air. The account ElonJet was also suspended for publishing Musk’s private jet locations in real-time to people publicly. Accounts such as CelebJet and RUOligarchJets were also suspended for posting the real-time locations of private jets used by celebrities and other high-profile personalities around the world.
“You dox, you get suspended. End of story, that’s it,” Musk stated. “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. They posted my exact real-time location, basically, assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.”
Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, revealed that the social media platform has an updated policy that barred sharing of live location information related to anyone on the platform or posting external links to such information.
“Without commenting on any specific accounts, I can confirm that we will suspend any accounts that violate our privacy policies and put other users at risk,” Irwin said in the email. “We don’t make exceptions to this policy for journalists or any other accounts.”
Rupar said he was not warned or notified before his Twitter account was suspended. Olbermann lamented the Twitter suspension, saying it does not bode well for independent journalists who do not have a ready platform for their journalism work. Several journalists and top media organizations have criticized Musk for suspending the journalists, urging him to reinstate their accounts immediately.
The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and Voice of America among others condemn Musk for the suspension, saying the act undermines his pledge to make Twitter a platform where free speech will be upheld. CNN made it clear that “Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Musk fired back at his critics by stating that “If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!”