On Thursday night, Twitter suspended a number of prominent reporters who had been covering the firm and Elon Musk. Although Musk stated the suspensions would last seven days, several messages claimed the accounts were “permanently suspended.” The suspensions follow Twitter’s decision to alter its guidelines for accounts that track private aircraft, including one run by Elon Musk.
As of Thursday night, the accounts of independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann, and Tony Webster as well as those of Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steve Herman of Voice of America, and Donie O’Sullivan of The Washington Times had all been suspended.
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Early on Thursday night, Mastodon’s Twitter account, which bills itself as a Twitter substitute, was also shut down. Journalists from NBC News were unable to post any links to Mastodon pages from their own Twitter accounts. However, Mastodon was a hot topic on Twitter. In response to a tweet from Mike Solana, vice president of venture capital firm Founders Fund, who noticed that the blocked accounts had posted links to jet trackers on other websites, Musk claimed that the bans were caused by the platform’s new regulations prohibiting private jet trackers.
In another tweet, he stated, “Criticizing me all day is entirely fine, but doing my real-time whereabouts and endangering my family is not.” Musk claimed in a later tweet that the accounts that were blocked on Thursday had posted “my exact real-time position, effectively assassination coordinates, in (apparent) flagrant violation of Twitter terms of service,” but NBC News was unable to independently confirm that claim.
The suspensions would last seven days, Musk subsequently added. Musk announced at the beginning of November, not long after seizing control of Twitter, that he would not block the account that tracked his flight. Prior to his suspension, Lee tried to tweet a link to the Mastodon account that monitored Musk’s flight but was unable to, so he posted a screenshot instead, according to a text message from Lee.
Rupar said on Substack that he had no further information other than the fact that his account has been permanently suspended. He wrote, “I haven’t heard anything from Twitter at all. He mentioned that on Wednesday, he had tweeted a link to a Facebook page that monitored Musk’s aircraft. Mashable tech reporter Binder claimed he was expelled after tweeting a screenshot of an LAPD statement from CNN’s expelled reporter O’Sullivan.
“I started using it in 2008. I always obey the rules, so I never even received a smack on the wrist “Added Binder. “When you are aware of the rules, it’s not difficult to do.” According to Binder, his account informed him that he had been permanently suspended. Binder said of Musk, “This is the very stuff he’s chastised the prior Twitter of doing.” When he joined a Thursday night audio chat on Twitter Spaces with other journalists, Binder did seem to discover a way around Twitter’s suspension.
Binder jokingly said, “I’m breaking the law in ways that have never been broken before.” On Thursday, O’Sullivan said that every journalist suspended alongside him covered Musk. O’Sullivan stated on CNN that Musk “seems to be just stamping down accounts that he doesn’t like, as we saw with the jet tracker last night.” The suspensions, according to a network representative, were “impulsive and unjustified,” but not shocking.
The network issued a statement saying, “Twitter’s growing instability and volatility should be of enormous worry for everyone who uses Twitter.” We have contacted Twitter for an explanation, and based on their response, we will reassess our partnership. The Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee stated that Elon Musk’s claim that he intended to manage Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech is “clearly undermined” by Harwell’s ban from Twitter.
Buzbee said in a statement Thursday night that the journalist should be promptly reinstated because he was “banned from Twitter without warning, process, or explanation, following the release of his correct reporting regarding Musk.” The New York Times spokesman criticized the bans and said they were regrettable, adding that neither Mac nor the publication had received any information regarding the prohibition.
Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., tweeted that she had met with Twitter personnel on Thursday and that they had assured her that they will not take any action against journalists who disseminate negative coverage of the social media network. “Several technology reporters have been suspended in less than 12 hours. What is going on, @elonmusk?” Trahan threw in.
The bans and reinstatements of accounts linked to the QAnon movement and other far-right organizations come as Musk retreats from his pledge to operate Twitter as an absolutist in defense of free speech. He has fired firm employees who have criticized his policies internally. Following Twitter’s initial suspension of the account that monitored Elon Musk’s flight, the business has experienced a turbulent few days.
After Musk claimed a “stalker” confronted a car transporting his child in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sweeney, a 20-year-old Florida college student, looked to be under threat of legal action from Musk. Sweeney is the founder of the app. Musk did not offer any evidence that Sweeney or his account was at fault. He did not specify when or where in the vast metropolis the alleged incident took place.
The last time Sweeney’s bot tweeted anything was on December 12, “which is not last night, so I don’t know how that’s connected,” he said to NBC News on Wednesday. He also claimed that he hasn’t gotten any notice of legal action. No police reports have been filed, according to the Los Angeles Police Department on Thursday.
“The Los Angeles Police Department’s Threat Management Unit is in touch with Elon Musk’s representatives and security team about the issue and tweet. According to a statement released by Officer Lizeth Leoni, a police public information officer, no criminal complaints have yet been filed. The Los Angeles metropolitan area is serviced by other law enforcement agencies.
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