Elon Musk on Friday night reinstated nine journalists he had suspended the day before from Twitter – 24 hours after he made a cameo appearance in a discussion to debate his decision, and then abruptly left the forum when challenged by reporters.
Musk, who had faced widespread condemnation for his blocking of reporters who angered him, tweeted on Friday: ‘The people have spoken. Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now.’
The Twitter owner on Thursday banned journalists from CNN, Washington Post, New York Times and other outlets after they reported on his decision to block an account charting his private jet use.
Musk said the journalists ‘doxxed’ him by revealing his private information; the journalists insisted that they had not published his address or location.
On Thursday evening, BuzzFeed News tech reporter Katie Notopoulos hosted a Twitter Spaces discussion, which Musk joined.
‘Everyone’s going to be treated the same,’ said Musk, defending his decision to suspend the reporters’ accounts.
‘They’re not special just because you’re a journalist.’
Elon Musk on Thursday evening joined a discussion to talk about the suspension of nine journalists from Twitter
Drew Harwell, a Washington Post reporter (left) spoke at a discussion hosted by Katie Notopoulos of BuzzFeed. Musk briefly joined in, then abruptly left when questioned by Harwell
Shortly before the discussion, he tweeted: ‘They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.’
Journalists Ryan Mac of the New York Times, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steven Herman of VOA, along with Aaron Rupar, Tony Webster, and Keith Olbermann, all found their Twitter accounts suspended on Thursday.
Elon Musk’s banned journalists
Ryan Mac – Technology reporter for the New York Times
Drew Harwell – Technology reporter for the Washington Post
Donie O’Sullivan – Politics and technology correspondent for CNN
Matt Binder – Technology reporter at Mashable
Michah Lee – Technology reporter at The Intercept
Aaron Rupar – Independent journalist
Tony Webster – Independent journalist
Keith Olberman – Political commentator
Steve Herman – National correspondent for VOA
The journalists pushed back, denying publishing his location, but Musk was adamant.
‘Showing real-time information about somebody’s location is inappropriate, and I think everyone on this call would not like that to be done for them,’ Musk said.
‘You’re just a Twitter citizen. So no special treatment. You dox, you get suspended, end of story.’
He added that ‘ban evasion, or trying to be clever about it, like, Oh I posted a link to the real-time information,’ was not an excuse.
Notopoulos pushed back and said that the journalists had simply reported about the account @ElonJet, highlighting how often he used a private jet – which Musk likened to ‘assassination coordinates’.
‘You consider that, like, a tricky attempt at ban evasion?’ she asked.
Musk replied: ‘You post a link to the real-time information: ban evasion, obviously.’
Washington Post tech reporter Drew Harwell, one of the suspended journalists, said that he had not posted Musk’s address on Twitter.
‘You posted a link to the address,’ Musk shot back.
‘In the course of reporting about ElonJet, we posted links to ElonJet, which are now not online, and now banned on Twitter,’ Harwell said.
Musk replied: ‘You dox, you get suspended, end of story.’
Notopoulos, the host, said: ‘Elon, I have to ask – I think what everyone is wondering is: it’s highly unusual for a journalist at The Washington Post and The Washington Times to be, have their Twitter account suspended.
‘And it just so happens that it’s, you know, the boss in charge, you know? So, you know, what’s the deal there?’
She paused for a moment and then said: ‘Oh. I think Elon has left.’
On Thursday evening, Representative Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez said she sympathized with Musk’s desire to prevent himself from being doxed — but still branded his ban on nine journalists ‘proto-fascism.’
The congresswoman said ‘I get feeling unsafe,’ noting that she has also experienced similar threats to her safety, and added that she felt the billionaire was ‘descending into abuse of power’ to try to protect himself.
Following the suspensions, CNN posted a statement saying it had asked Twitter to explain and would ‘reevaluate our relationship based on that response.’
Some of the journalists appeared to have been suspended for Tweeting links to the social media platform Mastadon – a Twitter alternative – where @ElonJet tracked Musk’s private jet with public information migrated after it was banned from Twitter yesterday.
Mastadon’s Twitter account was banned on Thursday, which Harwell pointed out in a tweet linking to the account. His account was suspended some time after.
After Harwell was suspended, Olbermann tweeted about what had happened, and posted a link to Mastadon while imploring other others to do the same.
It remains unclear whether the other reporters Tweeted about Mastadon or @ElonJet.
A number of journalists who have been covering Elon Musk and Twitter were banned from the social media company on Thursday
Journalists Keith Olberman (left) and Aaron Rupar (right) were among numerous suspended from Twitter on Thursday
Tony Webster (left), an independent journalist, was banned from Twitter on Thursday, as was Matt Binder (right), a reporter for Mashable
Michah Lee (left), a technology reporter at The Intercept, and Steve Herman (right), a national correspondent for VOA, were banned from Twitter Thursday
Musk’s crusade against doxxing and @ElonJet was ignited this week after he claimed a stalker jumped on the hood of a car carrying his son.
Explaining the ordeal, Musk said: ‘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.’
Musk was referring to his child, X.
‘Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,’ he added, referring to @ElonJet creator Jack Sweeney.
It is unclear how Musk connected @ElonJet to the stalking incident, which did not appear to involve his private plane in any way.
As outrage about the suspensions swirled on Twitter Thursday night, Musk joined the fray with his own deluge of comments, which included a poll asking users when he should reinstate the banned journalist’s tweets, a tirade about how President Biden would react if journalists’ were doxxed, and a declaration of his love for Barbara Streisand.
‘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!’ he wrote.
He added a poll titled ‘Unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time,’ with the options ‘Now,’ ‘Tomorrow,’ ‘7 Days from now,’ ‘Longer.’
When the poll came back with a 43 percent majority calling for ‘Now,’ Musk replied that he would redo it because he’d provided too many options.
Musk’s November tweet in which he said he would not ban @elonjet. Users flagged the tweet, and added that Musk had now gone against his word
CNN spoke out against the suspension of O’Sullivan in a statement posted to Twitter.
‘The unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising,’ the outlet wrote. ‘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 will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.’
The New York Times said Mac Twitter gave him no explanation about his suspension, according to NBC News.
‘We hope that all of the journalists’ accounts are reinstated and that Twitter provides a satisfying explanation for this action,’ the Times told the outlet.
Rupar said he had ‘no idea’ why he was suspended, according to NBC journalist Ben Collins. Each of the other journalists banned had recently been covering Musk.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in, saying while she understood Musk’s fears over his safety as a public figure, she called his approach to the problem ‘proto-facism.’
‘As someone who has been subject to real + dangerous plots, I do get it. I didn’t have security and have experienced many scary incidents,’ she wrote in one tweet. ‘In fact, many of the right-wing outlets you now elevate published photos of my home, car, etc. At a certain point you gotta disconnect.’
‘You’re a public figure. An extremely controversial and powerful one. I get feeling unsafe, but descending into abuse of power + erratically banning journalists only increases the intensity around you.’
‘Take a beat and lay off the proto-fascism. Maybe try putting down your phone,’ she followed up.
A spokesperson for Twitter told The Verge they wouldn’t comment on specific suspensions, but added any users putting others at risk would be banned.
‘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,’ the Spokesperson said.
Billionaire Elon Musk posted a clip showing the identity of the ‘crazy stalker’ who followed the car that his son X was traveling in. The Twitter CEO said that the man, who is seen wearing a black mask and hood, blocked the car’s path before jumping on the hood. Musk believes that the stalker thought Elon himself was traveling in the car at the time
The @elonjet Twitter account suspended. Musk previous said he would not ban it
Last night Musk CEO posted a video of the man who he said was the stalker.
In the short video, the suspect was seen wearing a black hood and driving a white Hyundai – before picking up his phone to record the encounter himself.
The video, believed to be filmed by Musk’s driver, then panned towards the car’s license plate. There was a short exchange with the alleged stalker – where the driver seemed to utter: ‘Got it.’
When one horrified Twitter follower asked if this was the man who jumped on the hood of the car, billionaire Musk confirmed and said: ‘Yeah.’
Jack Sweeney started @ElonJet in 2020 because he was a fan of Musk and wanted to see how he managed his businesses
The @ElonJet Twitter account suspended. Musk previous said he would not ban it
He elaborated on the rationale for the decision to ban @ElonJet, saying that accounts which published where people were located in ‘real-time’ were a ‘physical safety violation.’
‘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. Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok.’
Sweeney’s jet account was suspended Wednesday morning. He tweeted at Musk asking how long of a delay was necessary for there to be no safety response, and then by Wednesday evening the account – and his personal account – were suspended again.
Musk has previously gone after @elonjet, which Sweeney set up in 2020 when he was 19 because he was a super-fan of the billionaire and wanted to see how he managed his businesses.
In 2021, Musk offered Sweeney, 20, $5,000 to take down the account, which he saw as a risk to his safety.
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