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Twitter suspends journalists actively reporting on ElonJet ban, Musk claims doxxing
The suspension extends to other users, including the official Mastodon account
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Ban-apalooza
🤐 Twitter has suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists
🐘 The Twitter account for mastodon.social has also been removed
📢 Musk visited a journalist-hosted Twitter Spaces session to explain
👋 He left the Space after stating even reporters will be punished for doxxing
🌎 Twitter says the suspensions were not limited to journalists
Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, is in a standoff with the platform’s users, including members of the press, a rival social media company, and one pesky Florida college student. Late yesterday, reports began to percolate around the suspension of the accounts of several journalists, in the last few days, who’ve been working on the Twitter and Elon Musk beat.
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But it didn’t stop there. When the Twitter account of Mastodon.social posted a link to the ElonJet Mastodon page run by Jack Sweeney, the University of Florida college student who was recently banned for sharing Musk’s flight information, it was suspended.
Shortly after, Twitter began blocking the posting of links to several other “instances” of Mastodon. Then Twitter briefly shut down an entire feature – called Twitter Spaces – after an impromptu Musk visit to a Space being hosted, and attended, by several tech journalists, wherein he left after being pressed to justify his company’s recent actions.
In an e-mail to Reuters today, Twitter Head of Trust and Safety Ella Irwin said, “I understand that the focus seems to be mainly on journalist accounts but we applied the policy equally to journalists and non-journalist accounts today.” She also told the outlet all of the suspended accounts had been manually reviewed, and had been suspended for violating the company’s new policy by linking to the ElonJet account.
Musk has explained the suspensions broadly by saying affected accounts had posted his real-time location – though the reporters in question seemingly only posted links to the ElonJet Twitter account while reporting on its suspension. That said, linking to accounts which provide “live location” information is now a breach of Twitter’s rules, which were changed amidst the expansion of Twitter’s ElonJet ban.
That may not tell the full story, though. According to reporting at Los Angeles Times, at least two of the accounts – those of CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan and Washington Post’s Drew Harwell – were removed after they shared a statement by the Los Angeles Police Department. Both reporters had also recently covered the ElonJet ban, with O’Sullivan having published a video interview with Sweeney, and, in the course of that coverage, had published links to the ElonJet account, either before the new rule was added or after the account was banned.
The LAPD said it had no report of a crime related to Musk’s alleged stalker incident from Tuesday night, a situation Musk described, with scant proof, in an effort to justify his sudden strong opposition to the ElonJet Twitter account, the continued existence of which he once pointed to as proof of his unwavering support of free speech.
Shortly after this, Matt Binder of Mashable posted a screenshot of O’Sullivan’s original tweet, and he, too, was suspended from Twitter. Binder alleges he hadn’t shared links to any location-tracking accounts or broken any of the platform’s rules.
Musk chides journalists on the internet
Later Thursday evening, Musk made an unannounced visit to a Twitter Spaces session hosted by Katie Notopoulos, a BuzzFeed reporter, and attempted to defend his actions repeating his above claims about journalists having shared his location data.
“Everyone’s going to be treated the same,” said Musk to the group, “They’re not special just because you’re a journalist.”
He said posting links to accounts that publish his flight information is an attempt to subvert the rules, and would lead to an instant suspension. Harwell, who was in the Spaces session, pointed out that the links were added in the course of reporting the story, and that the accounts in question have since been banned.
Harwell asked how this was different from the Twitter Files-confirmed treatment by the social network of a New York Post story surrounding Hunter Biden, which ultimately saw the Post’s account suspended, and which Musk called “incredibly inappropriate.” The story was also muted by Facebook.
Rather than address the question, Musk responded, “You dox, you get suspended, end of story,” then left.
Notably, the new rule Musk was referring to was added after ElonJet was banned, making any linking to that account afterward simply a link to a page advising the account no longer exists, while any linking prior to that was compliant with previous rules.
After Twitter’s owner left the Spaces session, everyone in it was booted. It soon became clear that Spaces itself was down, which Musk claimed in a tweet was because Twitter was “fixing a Legacy bug,” and that it would be “working tomorrow.” Indeed, Spaces appears to have returned, though it’s unclear whether and what bug was fixed – in the past, the Twitter Spaces official account has addressed outages, but did not yesterday.