Musk suspends the work of journalists on Twitter and alleges the threat of “assassination”


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, with company owner Elon Musk accusing reporters of publishing “essentially assassination coordinates” for him and his family.

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

The comment came without prior warning or initial explanation from Twitter. It happened a day after Twitter changed its policy on sharing “live location information” and suspended an account, known as @elonjet, that was using public flight data to share the location of Musk’s private jet.

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

Twitter did not directly respond to questions about the comment. But Musk indicated on Twitter, without evidence, that journalists had revealed private information about his family, also known as doxxing. “Slamming me all day is totally fine, but polling my location in real time and putting my family in danger is not,” he tweeted late Thursday.

Harwell, whose most recent stories I covered ban elonjet And the The emergence of conspiracy theories on TwitterHe was discovered unable to log into his account or tweet at around 7:30pm on Thursday.

“Harwell was fired from Twitter without notice, address or explanation, after publishing his accurate reporting on Musk,” Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzby said in a statement. “Our journalist must be brought back immediately.”

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

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CNN reporter Donnie O’Sullivan was suspended shortly after he posted a tweet about Musk’s claim that a “crazy stalker” had stalked his young son in Los Angeles, according to photos.

Mashable correspondent Matt Binder was tweeting about O’Sullivan’s comment when his account went dark.

The account of freelance journalist Tony Webster has also been suspended as of Thursday evening. So were the accounts of former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. Intercept reporter Mika Lee. Steve Hermann, Senior National Correspondent for Voice of America; and Aaron Robar, a Substack writer with nearly 800,000 followers on Twitter.

“It is impossible to reconcile Twitter’s aspirations for free speech with the purge of accounts of critical journalists,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony De Romero said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects Musk’s right to do this, but it’s a horrible decision. Their accounts must be restored immediately.”

The account ban was labeled an “Ella trend” in Twitter’s internal systems, according to former employees in contact with Twitter employees. Ella Irwin, the company’s head of trust and safety, has carried out many of Musk’s orders since he bought the company in late October and began changing its rules in the name of what he called “free speech.”

A pre-comment is marked “Elon Direction”.

Erwin Edge saidWithout 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.

Musk tweeted late Thursday that the suspension will last for a week, though several reporters have reported via Twitter that they are permanently banned. Later that night, he is taken Twitter poll On when to restart the accounts – but restarted them after a large number of respondents said he should do so immediately.

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Musk also repeated his false claim that journalists revealed private information about his family.

“The same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as they do to everyone else,” he wrote in another tweet. “They posted my exact location in real time, Basically assassination 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 blocked and repeated his claim that they had “cheated” him.

Journalists challenged him on this matter.

“You’re suggesting we share your address, and it’s not true,” Harwell said.

And Musk responded, “I posted a link to the address.”

Harwell replied, “While reporting on @elonjet, we posted a link to @elonjet, and it’s now offline.”

Musk abruptly left the call after about four minutes.

musk He bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October, and quickly set about rolling back many of the previous administration’s policies against hate speech and misinformation. I have moved to Restoration of former President Donald Trump and other accounts suspended under the previous administration, saying Twitter’s new policy is “freedom of expression but not freedom of access.”

But Twitter caught it already Ban some high-profile accounts Before the apparent purification on Thursday.

On Wednesday, @elonjet was permanently suspended despite a tweet from Musk weeks earlier, saying he would continue with it as part of my “commitment to freedom of speech.”

same day, New Twitter policy is prohibited Sharing “live location information, including information shared to Twitter directly, links to … routes of travel, actual physical location, or other identifying information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless of whether such information is publicly available.”

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However, none of the tweets from the arrested reporters reviewed by The Post revealed the whereabouts of Musk or his family.

Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass) wrote on Twitter On Thursday evening, its employees met with Twitter officials the same day. They told us they would not retaliate against independent journalists or researchers who publish criticisms of the platform. Less than 12 hours later, several tech reporters have been suspended.”

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

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

A spokesperson for The New York Times called the comment “questionable and unfortunate” in a statement released Thursday night.

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

In a company statement, CNN called O’Sullivan and other reporters’ comment “hasty and gratuitous” and said it had asked Twitter for clarification. “We will re-evaluate our relationship based on that response.”

Faiz Siddiqui, Joseph Min, and Elah Izadi contributed to this report.

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