Several well-known journalists who write about the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, have had their Twitter accounts suddenly deleted. On Thursday night, several journalists, including those at the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post, found themselves unable to access their email. As reported by The Verge, a Twitter representative explained that the restriction applies to the real-time broadcasting of location information.
After threatening legal action against the owner of a profile used to track his plane, Mr. Musk has taken this step. Independent reporters Aaron Rupar and Tony Webster, as well as The Intercept’s Micha Lee and Mashable’s Matt Binder, are also on the blacklist. The suspensions were deemed “questionable and unfortunate” by a New York Times spokesman, who also noted that neither the newspaper nor Mac’s employer had been given an explanation.
The “impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters… is concerning but not surprising”. It has asked Twitter for an explanation and will ” re-evaluate our partnership based on that response.” The move was important because of “the potential chilling influence” it could have on journalists, particularly those who cover Mr. Musk’s other companies, according to CNN‘s Donie O’Sullivan, whose account was among those stopped.
Mr. Musk tweeted to potential advertisers after completing his takeover of Twitter in October that he did so because he wanted to “attempt to serve humanity” and because he wanted “civilization to have a digital town square.” In a tweet, Mr. Musk wrote, “criticizing me all day long is entirely acceptable, but doxxing my real-time whereabouts and endangering my family is not.” Mr. Musk has not reacted directly on the bans.
Moreover, he said, doxxing accounts, which publish private information about people online, are suspended for seven days. “Same doxxing standards apply to ‘journalists’ as everyone else,” he tweeted. My current location was broadcast live on Twitter, which is a clear breach of Twitter’s rules. “If somebody posted real-time whereabouts and addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there would be hearings on Capitol Hill, and Biden would give speeches about the end of democracy!” he said.
Since then, the tech tycoon has set up a poll asking whether he should unsuspend the accounts “immediately” or “in seven days,” hinting the decision may be reversed sooner rather than later. According to Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, no “live location information,” meaning either information provided on Twitter directly or links to third-party URL(s) of travel paths, are allowed.
“Without commenting on any specific accounts, I can affirm that we will suspend any accounts that breach our privacy regulations and put other users at risk,” Mrs. Irwin told the outlet. There will be no exceptions to this rule for journalists or any other accounts. Twitter Spaces is a feature of the social media app that enables live audio discussions, and it was there that Mr. Musk later addressed the media.
After fielding a few queries on the ban, he exited in front of an audience of 30,000 and Twitter Spaces afterward appeared to be deactivated. Twitter banned @ElonJet and other similar accounts that tracked Musk’s plane using public data on Wednesday. Jack Sweeney, 20, the account’s creator and owner, had his personal account disabled. He has since threatened legal action against him and “organizations who supported harm to my family,” as Mr. Musk put it.
Mr. Musk said that a “crazy stalker” had followed a vehicle carrying his children in Los Angeles via live location sharing. Mastodon, an emerging alternative to Twitter after Mr. Musk purchased it for $44bn in October, also had its official account suspended by Twitter. It happened when, as reported by the New York Times, Mastodon promoted Mr. Sweeney’s new account on Twitter on Thursday.
It appears that sharing links to people’s individual Mastodon accounts was also forbidden. Users received an error notice explaining that Twitter or its partners had “identified” links to Mastodon as “possibly dangerous.”
The accounts of several prominent journalists who cover Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, have been mysteriously erased. Several news organizations’ reporters and editors were locked out of their inboxes on Thursday night. This included staffers at the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post, among others. A Twitter official told The Verge that the rule only affects the live dissemination of location data.
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