New Delhi: Twitter chief Elon Musk on Saturday announced that the microblogging platform will reverse the suspension on accounts of several high-profile journalists who he accused of “doxxing” him.
Twitter abruptly suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists who cover the social media platform and Elon Musk. The accounts 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 independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann as well as Tony Webster had all been suspended as of Thursday evening.
The Twitter chief then conducted a poll leaving it to people to decide whether the accounts should be restored, a method he has previously employed to decide on reversing other Twitter suspensions including that of former US President Donald Trump.
“Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now,” he wrote after his Twitter poll received 36,90,639 votes with 58.7% voting in favor of restoring it immediately while 41.3% voted to let the suspensions go on for a week.
The people have spoken.
Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now. https://t.co/MFdXbEQFCe
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2022
After being suspended on the microblogging site, the journalists found a backdoor way onto the platform through the website’s audio function, and hours later of suspension, they faced off with Musk in a Twitter Space audio discussion before an audience of more than 30,000 listeners.
“You doxx, you get suspended. End of story. That’s it,” Musk said to one of the suspended journalists, explaining his latest policy to the group before he left minutes after having joined the discussion, as quoted by news agency PTI.
Musk was referring to Twitter’s latest rule change about accounts that track private jets, including one owned by Musk himself, which was put in place on Wednesday.
“Criticising me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not,” Musk wrote in a tweet.
Doxxing refers to the practice of sharing someone’s home address or other personal information online.
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Concerns Raised Over Twitter Suspensions
Musk tweeted that the accounts banned on Thursday posted “my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service”.
However, in early November, shortly after having taken control of Twitter, Musk had tweeted that he would not ban the account that tracked his jet.
The billionaire had earlier put up a poll with a variety of options, asking whether or when he should reinstate the journalists’ accounts, but later deleted the poll and started a fresh one with fewer options and a plurality of respondents voted to restore the accounts immediately.
“As we saw with the jet tracker last night, Musk seems to be just stamping out accounts that he doesn’t like,” CNN’s O’Sullivan said on the network, as quoted by PTI.
A spokesperson for the network said the suspensions were “impulsive and unjustified” — but not surprising.
“Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter,” the CNN wrote in a statement. Other media platforms and publications expressed similar concerns.
EU Threatens Of Sanctions
Meanwhile, the European Union threatened Musk with sanctions after the journalists covering the company had their accounts abruptly suspended.
EU commissioner Vera Jourova warned that the EU’s Digital Services Act requires the respect for media freedom.
News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying. EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.
— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) December 16, 2022
“Elon Musk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon,” she tweeted.
Twitter’s head of trust and safety told the Verge: “Without 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.”
(With Agency Inputs)