Twitter accounts of several journalists from news organisations like CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post were banned on Thursday. These journalists had been reporting on Twitter boss Elon Musk who later said the journalists had been banned for doxxing him and violating "privacy rules".
"Same doxxing rules apply to 'journalists' as to everyone else," he wrote, claiming that the journalists had posted his real-time location. "They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service," he further added responding to another Twitter user.
Doxxing is when someone's personal information like their home address or live location is shared online.
Here is all you need to know about the latest controversy at Twitter:
Why were journalists' accounts suspended?
The Verge quoted Ella Irwin, Twitter's head of trust and safety, saying that the suspended accounts violated privacy policies.
"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. We don't make exceptions to this policy for journalists or any other accounts," the tech website quoted Irwin as saying.
According to a CNN report, The New York Times' Ryan Mac, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, and The Washington Post's Drew Harwell were among several journalists whose accounts were "permanently" banned. These journalists, according to the report, had been "aggressively" writing about Musk in recent weeks.
"Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not," Musk wrote in response to a tweet.
The ban on the journalists comes a day after Twitter permanently suspended Twitter user 'ElonJet' that was allegedly tracking Musk's private jet. Musk said he was mulling legal action against the person who runs the account. The account with half a million followers is run by 20-year-old Jack Sweeney. BBC reported that Sweeney used "publicly available" flight-tracking information to tweet on Musk's jet.
The 20-year-old also runs several other Twitter accounts that track flights of wealthy Americans such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, BBC reported.
The New York Times said that the journalists whose accounts were suspended had either written or tweeted about the Twitter handles tracking Musk's private jet information. Some of them, according to the report, had been critical of the new Twitter boss.
What have the journalists said?
CNN has sought an explanation from Twitter over the "impulsive and unjustified" ban. "The impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising. Twitter's increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter," CNN's spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Reuters quoted The New York Times spokesperson who termed the ban as "questionable and unfortunate".
"Tonight's suspension of the Twitter accounts of a number of prominent journalists, including The New York Times's Ryan Mac, is questionable and unfortunate. Neither The Times nor Ryan have received any explanation about why this occurred. We hope that all of the journalists' accounts are reinstated and that Twitter provides a satisfying explanation for this action," the spokesperson said.
The Verge reported that while the banned accounts cannot post, they can still participate in Twitter Spaces. The report added that Musk tried to explain himself in one of the Spaces that was attended by the ElonJet account and some of the banned journalists as well.
What has Musk said?
The Spaces was hosted by BuzzFeed News tech reporter Katie Notopoulos on Thursday night where Musk said "You dox, you get suspended. End of story, that's it." in response to The Washington Post's Harwell. He accused the journalists of doxxing who were for reporting on 'ElonJet'.
"Everyone's going to be treated the same," he said. He left the Spaces as the journalists tried confronting him with more questions.
On Friday, Musk also launched a poll on Twitter asking when he should restore the banned Twitter handles of journalists who "doxxed" his location.
As most of the responses voted for "now", he launched another poll saying the previous one had "too many options". The latest poll has two options, "Now" and "7 days".
He posted another tweet in the thread and made a cryptic remark. "If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there'd be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy! (sic)," he wrote.
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