Musk suspends journalists from Twitter, alleges danger of ‘murder’

Musk suspends journalists from Twitter, alleges danger of 'murder'
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Twitter suspended the accounts of more than half a dozen journalists from CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other outlets Thursday night as the company’s owner, Elon Musk, accused the reporters of posting “basically murder coordinates” for him and his family.

The Post has seen no evidence that any of the reporters did so.

The suspensions came without any initial notice or explanation from Twitter. They came a day after Twitter changed its policy on sharing “live location information” and suspended an account, @ElonJet, that had been using public flight data to share the location of Musk’s private plane.

Many of the journalists suspended Thursday, including Washington Post technology reporter Drew Harwell, had been covering that rule change, as well as Musk’s claims that he and his family had been in danger for location sharing.

Twitter did not directly respond to questions about the suspensions. But Musk suggested on Twitter, without evidence, that journalists had revealed private information about his family, known as doxing. “Hitting on me all day is totally fine, but cheating on my real-time location and putting my family in danger isn’t.” tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Harwell, whose most recent stories covered @ElonJet ban Y The rise of conspiracy theories on Twitterfound that he couldn’t log into his account or tweet around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

“Harwell has been banned from Twitter without notice, process or explanation, following the publication of his accurate reporting on Musk,” The Post executive editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement. “Our journalist must be reinstated immediately.”

At least eight other journalists were suspended the same night, including New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac.

CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan was suspended shortly after posting a tweet about Musk’s claim that a “crazy stalker” had chased his young son in Los Angeles, according to screenshots.

Matt Binder, a reporter for Mashable, was tweeting about O’Sullivan’s suspension when his account also went dark.

Freelance journalist Tony Webster’s account was also suspended as of Thursday night. So were the accounts of former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann; intercept reporter Micah Lee; Voice of America Senior National Correspondent Steve Herman; and Aaron Rupar, a Substack writer with nearly 800,000 followers on Twitter.

“It is impossible to square Twitter’s free speech aspirations with the purge of critical journalists’ accounts,” American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects Musk’s right to do this, but it’s a terrible decision. His accounts must be restored immediately ”.

The account bans were tagged as “Ella’s address” in Twitter’s internal systems, according to two former employees in contact with Twitter staff. Ella Irwin, the company’s director of trust and safety, has carried out many of Musk’s bidding since he bought the company in late October and began changing his rules in the name of what he called “freedom of expression”.

A previous suspension was flagged as “Elon’s address.”

irwin told the edge: “Without commenting on any specific account, I can confirm that we will suspend any account that violates our privacy policies and puts other users at risk.”

Musk tweeted late Thursday that the suspensions would last for a week, though Twitter had informed several of the reporters that they were permanently banned. Later that night, he took a Twitter poll about when it should reset the accounts, but it did reset after a plurality of respondents said it should do so immediately.

Musk also repeated his baseless accusation that journalists had revealed private information about his family.

“Same doxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as everyone else,” he wrote in another tweet. “They published my exact location in real time, basically murder coordinates.”

At around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Musk joined a Twitter Spaces chat, essentially a public conference call, with several journalists, including some who had been banned, in which he reiterated his claim that he had been “misled” .

Journalists challenged him on this.

“You are suggesting that we are sharing your address, which is not true,” Harwell said.

Musk replied: “You posted a link to the address.”

Harwell responded: “In the course of reporting on @ElonJet, we posted a link to @ElonJet, which is now offline.”

Musk abruptly dropped the call about four minutes later.

Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October, and quickly began undoing many of the previous administration’s policies against hate speech and misinformation. has moved to restore former president Donald Trump and other accounts suspended under previous administration, saying Twitter’s new policy is “free speech but not free reach.”

But Musk’s Twitter already had banned some high profile accounts before the apparent purge on Thursday.

On Wednesday, @ElonJet was permanently suspended despite a tweet from Musk weeks earlier, saying he would keep it up as part of “my commitment to free speech.”

The same day a new Twitter policy outlawed the sharing of “live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to… routes of travel, actual physical location, or other identifying information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless of whether this information is available publicly”.

However, none of the tweets from the suspended reporters that The Post reviewed revealed the location of Musk or his family.

Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Massachusetts) wrote on Twitter Thursday night that his staff had met earlier that day with Twitter officials. “They told us that they will not retaliate against independent journalists or researchers who publish criticism of the platform. Less than 12 hours later, several technology reporters have been suspended.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists attacked the suspensions in a statement:

“We are concerned by news reports that journalists who have covered recent events related to Twitter and its owner, Elon Musk, have had their accounts on the platform suspended. If confirmed in retaliation for their work, it would be a serious violation of the right of journalists to report without fear of reprisals.

A New York Times spokesman called the suspensions “questionable and unfortunate” in a statement Thursday night.

“Neither The Times nor Ryan have received any explanation as to why this occurred,” Charlie Stadtlander said. “We hope that all journalists’ accounts will be reinstated and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.”

In a company statement, CNN called the suspension of O’Sullivan and other reporters “impulsive and unwarranted” and said it had asked Twitter for an explanation. “We will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”

Faiz Siddiqui, Joseph Menn, and Elahe Izadi contributed to this report.

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