Twitter on Dec. 15 suspended the accounts of journalists who cover the social media platform and its new owner Elon Musk, including reporters working for The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America and other publications.
The company hasn’t explained why it took down the accounts and made their profiles and past tweets disappear. The sudden suspension of news reporters followed Musk’s decision on Dec. 14 to permanently ban an account that automatically tracked the flights of his private jet using publicly available data. That also led Twitter to change its rules for all users to prohibit the sharing of another person’s current location without their consent.
Several of the reporters suspended Thursday night had been writing about that new policy and Musk’s rationale for imposing it, which involved his allegations about a stalking incident that affected his family on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
“Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” Musk tweeted on Dec. 15. He later added: “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”
“Doxxing” refers to disclosing online someone’s identity, address, or other personal details.
CNN said in a statement that “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 statement added. “We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Another suspended journalist, Matt Binder of the tech news outlet Mashable, said he was banned Thursday night immediately after sharing a screenshot that O’Sullivan had posted before the CNN reporter’s suspension.
The screenshot showed a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department sent earlier Thursday to multiple media outlets, including The Associated Press, about how it was in touch with Musk’s representatives about the alleged stalking incident, but that no crime report had yet been filed.
“I did not share any location data, as per Twitter’s new terms. Nor did I share any links to ElonJet or other location tracking accounts,” Binder said in an email. “I have been highly critical of Musk but never broke any of Twitter’s listed policies.”
Another suspended reporter, Steve Herman of Voice of America, said he assumes he was banned “because I was tweeting about other journalists being suspended for tweeting about accounts being booted that had linked to the Elon Jet feed.”