Elon Musk’s Twitter bans journalists from CNN, NYT and WaPo

New York CNN—

Twitter on Thursday night banned the accounts of several high profile journalists from the country’s major news outlets, marking a significant attempt by new owner and self-proclaimed free speech absolutist Elon Musk to exert his unilateral authority on the platform. to censor the press.

Accounts belonging to CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, New York Times’ Ryan Mac, Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and other journalists who have covered Musk aggressively in recent weeks have all been abruptly suspended permanently. The account of progressive freelance journalist Aaron Rupar was also banned.

Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to CNN’s request for comment, and the platform did not formally explain why the reporters were exiled from the platform.

But, in a series of sporadic tweets, Musk claimed reporters violated his new “doxxing” policy by sharing his “exact real-time” location, which amounts to what he described as “coordinates of ‘assassination”. None of the banned reporters appeared to have shared Musk’s precise real-time location.

Musk later appeared in a Twitter space, hosted by a BuzzFeed reporter, and reiterated his claim that he had been doxxed.

Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan reported on Twitter that the social media company had suspended the account of an emerging competitive social media service, Mastodon, which allowed the continued posting of @ElonJet, an account that posts the updated location of Musk’s private. jet.

Other journalists suspended on Thursday had recently written on the account.

Doxxing refers to the practice of sharing someone’s home address or other personal information online. The banned account had instead used publicly available flight data, which remains online and accessible, to track Musk’s jet.

The bans raise a number of questions about the future of the platform, which has been branded as a digital public square. Musk’s censorship of journalists has seriously called into question Musk’s supposed commitment to free speech.r

Musk has repeatedly said he would like to allow any 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 means.

A CNN spokesperson said the company has asked Twitter for an explanation and will “reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”

“The impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of journalists, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising. Twitter’s growing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern to anyone who uses Twitter,” the spokesperson said.

A New York Times spokesperson called the mass bans ‘questionable and unfortunate’, adding: ‘Neither the Times nor Ryan have received an explanation as to why this happened. We hope that all journalists’ accounts will be restored and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.

“Elon says he’s a champion of free speech and he prohibits journalists from exercising free speech,” Harwell told CNN on Thursday. “I think that calls into question his commitment.”

Rupar also said he had heard “nothing” from Twitter about the suspension.

Several organizations condemned Twitter’s decision, with the head of the American Civil Liberties Union saying, “It is impossible to reconcile Twitter’s free speech aspirations with the purge of accounts of critical journalists.”

The president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) said in a statement that he was “concerned” about the suspensions, and that this decision “affects all journalists”.

The @ElonJet account, which had amassed more than 500,000 followers, was permanently suspended on Wednesday after Twitter introduced a set of new policies banning accounts that track people’s live locations. Musk has also blocked any accounts linked to this information. Previously, there were no location sharing restrictions on Twitter.

The changes came after Musk reinstated Twitter’s old rule breakers and stopped enforcing the platform’s policies prohibiting misinformation about Covid-19.

“I think it’s very important for the potential impact this can have on freelance journalists, freelance journalists around the world, especially those covering Elon Musk’s other companies, like Tesla and SpaceX,” he said. O’Sullivan told CNN on Thursday after his story. has been suspended.

As the furor over the account suspensions unfolded, some Twitter users reported that the platform had begun to intervene when they attempted to post links to their own profiles on alternative social networks, including Mastodon.

Those reports were confirmed late Thursday by a CNN reporter who was blocked from sharing a Mastodon profile URL and received an automated error message that Twitter or its partners had identified the site as “potentially dangerous.”

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