On Thursday evening a number of high-profile journalists were suddenly suspended from Twitter, with no reason immediately being given for the bans.
The suspended accounts included The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, and CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan. All the banned journalists had been covering Elon Musk extensively over the last few weeks.
The impetus for the suspensions seems to be that the journalists were covering the @Elonjet account, which used publicly available information to track Musk’s personal jet. The @Elonjet account as well as its creator Jack Sweeney were also banned. On November 6, Elon stated that his “commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”
Later in the evening Musk himself started tweeting explanations, saying that the journalists had violated the new “doxxing” policy by sharing his “exact real-time location,” which he also described as “assassination coordinates.”
Ironically, it seems like suspended accounts can still join Twitter Spaces, so a roundtable of the banned journalists was put together by Buzzfeed tech reporter Katie Notopoulos. Musk joined the Twitter Space after roughly an hour of being up, reiterated his points about doxxing, then quit the call when a journalist pressed him to answer another question. An hour later, the Twitter Space was unceremoniously ended.
At the moment, Musk says accounts that violate the “doxxing” policy will be banned for seven days. However, he ran a poll asking when the accounts should be reinstated, with the “Now” option winning by 43 percent. Musk said there were too many options, and he’d redo the poll, but ironically the new poll also had the “Now” option winning by a landslide. Even with both polls, Musk hasn’t shown any intention of reinstating the new accounts before the seven days are up.
Interestingly, journalists don’t seem to be the only accounts suspended, as the official account for the Mastodon social network was also suspended at the same time. It’s not entirely clear what that account did to violate any rules or policies, outside of being competition to Twitter itself.