February 4, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

Twitter suspends several journalists, Musk cites “doxxing” of his jet


Twitter on Thursday suspended the accounts of several prominent journalists who have recently written about its new owner Elon Musk, with the billionaire tweeting that the rules banning the release of personal information apply to everyone, including journalists.

In response to a tweet about the account suspensions, Mr Musk, who has described himself as a free speech absolutist, tweeted, “‘Journalists’ are subject to the same rules of doxxing as everyone else,” a reference to the Twitter Rules that the Sharing personal data prohibiting information, called doxxing.

Mr Musk’s tweet referred to Twitter’s Wednesday suspension of @elonjet, an account that tracks his private jet in real time using publicly available data. Musk had threatened legal action against the operator of the account, saying his son was falsely being stalked by a “crazy stalker.”

It was unclear if all of the journalists whose accounts were banned had commented on or shared any news about @elonjet.

“Criticizing me all day is perfectly fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not,” Mr. Musk tweeted Thursday.

He tweeted last month that his commitment to freedom of expression “extends even to not suspending the account that’s following my plane, even though it’s a direct personal security risk.”

He tweeted Thursday that there would be a seven-day suspension for doxxing, followed by a poll asking Twitter users to vote on when doxxing accounts should be restored.

He then said he offered too many options in the poll and would repeat it after the results showed that about 43% voted for the accounts to be restored “now” – the largest proportion for each option.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suspensions reflect chaotic actions at Twitter since Mr Musk’s takeover, including quick layoffs of top management and thousands of employees, vacillations over how much to charge Twitter for subscription service Twitter Blue, and the restoration of suspended accounts , including that of former President Donald Trump.

Twitter now relies heavily on automation to moderate content by doing away with certain manual reviews and favoring distribution restrictions rather than removing certain idioms entirely, its new trust and safety director, Ella Irwin, told Reuters this month .

“questionable and regrettable”

Among the journalist accounts suspended Thursday was that of Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell (@drewharwell), who wrote on social media platform Mastodon that he had recently written about Musk and posted links to “publicly available, legally acquired data.” .

Twitter has also suspended Mastodon’s official account (@joinmastodon), which was created as an alternative to Twitter. Mastodon was not immediately available for comment.

Sally Buzbee, the Post’s editor-in-chief, said Mr Harwell’s suspension undercuts Mr Musk’s claims that he intends to operate Twitter as a platform for free speech.

However, Mr. Harwell was able to speak to fellow journalists in a Twitter Spaces conversation late Thursday night, a chat that Mr. Musk himself stopped by briefly.

“You Dox, you’re going to be suspended. End of story,” Mr Musk said in chat, as Mr Harwell dismissed claims that he had revealed Mr Musk’s real-time location, saying he simply posted via @elonjet.

Twitter updated its policy on Wednesday prohibiting the sharing of “live location information.”

The accounts of Times reporter Ryan Mac (@rmac18), CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan (@donie) and Mashable reporter Matt Binder @MattBinder have also been suspended, as has independent journalist Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) , which reports on US politics and politics.

Mr. Mac recently posted a series of Twitter threads about the @elonjet ban and interviewed Jack Sweeney, the account’s 20-year-old operator.

A spokesman for the New York Times called the suspensions “questionable and unfortunate. Neither The Times nor Ryan have received an explanation as to why this happened. We hope that all journalists’ accounts will be recovered and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.”

CNN said it asked Twitter for an explanation about the lockdowns and will reassess its relationship with the platform based on that response.

The other reporters could not be immediately reached for comment. – Reuters