Following an online clash with Twitter CEO Elon Musk, multiple journalists have been suspended from Twitter, and Twitter’s live audio service is down.
- After allegedly revealing the location of Musk’s private jet, multiple reporters—including some from CNN, the Washington Post, and The New York Times—were given a seven-day Twitter suspension.
- Representatives from the news outlets have said they did not receive an explanation for the suspension, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- Tweets from Musk indicated that the decision to suspend the journalists was linked with the suspension of another account run by college student Jack Sweeney, who tracks the movements of Musk’s private jet—@ElonJet.
- In addition to the journalists, Twitter has also suspended the account of a growing social media site, Mastodon.
- Not long after booting the journalists from the platform, Twitter turned off its live audio service, Twitter Spaces, when the suspended journalists discovered they could still interact with the feature.
- Thursday evening, Musk said Twitter Spaces should be back up and running the following day as his team was working to repair what he called an old bug.
Why it’s news
The sudden spurt of banned accounts seems opposed to Musk’s earlier commitments to absolute free speech. For example, concerning @ElonJet, Musk tweeted earlier this year… “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”
Shortly after banning the account, Musk accused the account of doxxing—maliciously sharing a person’s private information online. While many planes can be tracked with publicly available information, Musk has stated that his aircraft is not trackable.
After banning the account, Musk tweeted, “Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are OK.” He adds, “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”
The same day @ElonJet was banned, Twitter edited its policies to prohibit accounts from sharing other people’s live locations in most circumstances.
Some recently suspended journalists shared information about @ElonJet, which is still active on other platforms. Others, such as a journalist from Mashable, did not share any information related to the account or any other similar account.
The social media account Mastodon tweeted just before its suspension, “Did you know? You can follow @ElonJet on Mastodon over at mastodon.social/@elonjet.”
Musk’s swift reaction to @ElonJet seems to have been prompted by an incident Musk tweeted about earlier in the week.
“Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood. Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,” he says.
Not long after their suspension, several journalists discovered they could participate in Twitter Spaces. BuzzFeed News’s Katie Notopoulos first opened the discussion in Twitter Spaces. The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and Mashable’s Matt Binder.
Musk himself joined the discussion as thousands of listeners tuned in. The CEO warned the journalists that anyone who doxxed individuals on Twitter would be suspended. The journalist argued that they hadn’t doxxed Musk, but Musk had already exited the call.