Twitter on Thursday evening banned the accounts of several high-profile journalists from top news organizations without explanation, apparently marking a significant effort by new owner Elon Musk to reassert his unilateral authority over the platform. .
Accounts linked to CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, Ryan Mack of The New York Times, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post and other reporters who have aggressively covered Musk in recent weeks were all suddenly permanently suspended. went. The account of progressive independent journalist Aaron Ropar was also banned.
Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to a request for comment Thursday evening, and the platform did not immediately clarify why the reporters were banished from the stage.
But he claimed the approved accounts violated his new “doxing” policy and shared what he said were “coordinates of murder” on him, even though several journalists pointed out that journalists distributed that type of information. Didn’t do it.
O’Sullivan, Mack and Harwell were recently reported on the ban on @ElonJet, an account that posted real-time updates on the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet.
Doxing usually refers to the practice of sharing one’s home address or other personal information online. The banned account used publicly available flight data to track Musk’s jet, which remains online and accessible.
The ban raised several questions about the future of the platform, which has been referred to as a digital town square. It also raised serious questions about Musk’s stated commitment to free speech.
Musk has repeatedly stated that he would like to allow all legal speech on the platform; In April, the same day he announced he would buy Twitter, he tweeted: “I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter, because that’s what free speech is all about.”
A spokeswoman for CNN said the company has asked Twitter for clarification, and that it will “re-evaluate our relationship based on that response.”
“The impulsive and unwarranted suspension of several journalists, including CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, is worrying but not surprising. Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern to everyone who uses Twitter,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for The New York Times called the massive ban “questionable and unfortunate”, and added: “Neither the Times nor Ryan has received an explanation as to why this happened. We hope that all journalists The accounts should be reinstated and Twitter should provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.”
“Elon says he’s a free speech champion and he’s banning journalists from free speech,” Harwell told CNN on Thursday. “I think it calls into question his commitment.”
Rupar also said that he heard “nothing” from Twitter about the suspension.
The @ElonJet account, which had more than 500,000 followers, was permanently suspended on Wednesday as Twitter introduced a set of new policies banning accounts that track people’s live locations. Kasturi also blocked any accounts linking such information. Prior to this, there was no restriction on location sharing on Twitter.
The changes come after Musk reinstated previous Twitter rule breakers and stopped them from enforcing the platform’s policies prohibiting COVID-19 misinformation.
Other accounts soon came under fire. twitter on thursday Shut down an account belonging to Mastodon, an emerging competitor, which tweeted earlier in the day that people could follow @ElonJet with a link to its platform.
Several journalists suspended Thursday had covered the ban on @ElonJet, highlighting the irony of Musk’s self-stated mission to advance free speech.
“Freedom of expression is what happens when the second richest man in the world threatens legal action against a 20-year-old college student for sharing publicly available data he doesn’t like,” Harwell told Jack Sweeney. Referring to what he tweeted before his account was taken down. The college student who runs @ElonJet.
CNN’s O’Sullivan was also covering the story after interviewing Sweeney and her grandmother about the issue.
“I think it’s very important for the potential chilling effect it could have on independent journalists, independent journalists around the world, especially those covering Elon Musk’s other companies like Tesla and SpaceX,” O’Brien said. Sullivan told CNN on Thursday after his account. was suspended.
As the uproar over the account suspension began, some Twitter users reported that the platform began interfering when they attempted to post links to their own profiles on alternative social networks, including Mastodon.
Those reports were confirmed Thursday evening by a CNN reporter who was blocked from sharing the Mastodon profile URL and given an automated error message saying that Twitter or its partners had tagged the site as “potentially harmful”. Identified as.