Billionaire owner of social media platform, Twitter on Thursday suspended the accounts of prominent journalists from top media organisations in the implementation of his earlier announced rules on “doxxing”.
Journalists whose accounts were suspended include New York Times reporter Ryan Mac, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, Matt Binder of Mashable, The Intercept’s Micah Lee and Steve Herman of Voice of America.
The accounts of independent journalists like Aaron Rupar, Tony Webster and Keith Olbermann were also suspended.
The account of a social media company called Mastodon, known to be an alternative to Twitter, was also suspended on Thursday.
Whereas most of the suspended accounts belong to journalists whose beat is Twitter, the social media company did not clearly state what the suspensions had in common as each user’s Twitter page was suspended for allegedly violating “the Twitter rules.”
Despite that Musk has been speaking strongly on his mission to maintain free speech on Twitter, the suspension of the prominent journalists’ accounts came a day after Twitter suspended more than 25 accounts that tracked the planes of government agencies, billionaires and high-profile individuals, including that of Musk.
Last month, Mr. Musk said he would allow the account that tracked his private plane to remain on Twitter, though he said it amounted to a security threat.
He tweeted saying, “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”
However, this week, Musk changed his mind after he claimed a car in which one of his sons was travelling was accosted by a “crazy stalker.” On Wednesday, Mr. Musk tweeted that any account that posted “real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info.”
New York Times reports that some of the journalists whose accounts were suspended had written about the accounts that tracked the private planes or had tweeted about those accounts. Some have also written articles that have been critical of Mr. Musk and his ownership of Twitter. Many of them had tens of thousands of followers on the platform.
Reacting to the suspension of its journalist, CNN described the “impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan”, as “concerning but not surprising”.
“Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Also, a group known as Society of Professional Journalists, while also condemning the suspension said, “SPJ is concerned that @Twitter has suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists known to cover the platform and its owner @elonmusk,” SPJ National President @clairemariereg1 said.
“The SPJ Code of Ethics states journalists must hold those in power accountable, while still minimizing harm. This includes reporting in real time and engaging directly with the public they serve,” SPJ National President @clairemariereg1 continued.
“Twitter’s action affects all journalists and goes against Musk’s promise to uphold free speech on the platform. We will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for journalism and free speech on all platforms,” SPJ National President @clairemariereg1 continued.”
Musk in April said, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”
Musk’s action has faced a backlash on the social media platform. Responding to some comments on Twitter on the suspension of the journalists, Musk said, “7 day suspension for doxxing. Some time away from Twitter is good for the soul.”