Twitter Suspends Accounts of Journalists From CNN, New York Times Under New Doxxing Policy

Elon Musk’s Twitter suspended the accounts of multiple journalists, including from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, on Thursday after they allegedly violated the platform’s terms of service.

The accounts that were suspended belonged to CNN’s politics and tech correspondent Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ technology reporter Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s technology reporter Drew Harwell, Mashable’s tech reporter Matt Binder, The Intercept tech reporter Micah Lee, Voice of America’s chief national correspondent Steve Herman, journalist Aaron Rupar, and sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann.

The suspended accounts now read: “Twitter suspends accounts that violate the Twitter Rules.”

All the journalists have extensively covered Musk, who wrote on Twitter that they had allegedly revealed his location, potentially putting him and his family in danger.

“They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service,” Musk wrote. “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”

Musk also noted that accounts engaged in doxxing will receive a temporary seven-day suspension from Twitter.

Elon Musk
Owner and CEO of Twitter, Inc. Elon Musk arrives at the 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference in Manhattan in New York on Nov. 4, 2022. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

‘Same Doxxing Rules Apply to ‘Journalists”

In a separate tweet prior, the billionaire businessman had written that the “same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.”

Doxxing is the act of publishing private or identifying information about an individual, such as their address or phone number, online, typically with malicious intent.

Twitter’s head of trust and safety told the Verge in a statement: “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.”

Journalist Aaron Rupar wrote on Substack Thursday night that he has “no idea what rules I purportedly broke” and that he has not had contact with Twitter regarding the suspension of his account.

Rupar also noted that prior to his suspension, he had posted a tweet regarding the ElonJet account that was suspended from Twitter which he said was “still active on Facebook, with a link to the Facebook page.”

“Perhaps that did it, but I still don’t know what policy that could’ve possibly violated,” he wrote.

A spokesperson for The New York Times said in a statement, “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.”

CNN said in a statement: “The impulsive and unjustified suspensions 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 to everyone who uses the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation.”

Musk Bans Account Tracking Private Jet

Twitter on Wednesday suspended a number of accounts that tracked the movements of private planes, including those belonging to Musk as well as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and revealed changes to the platform’s doxxing policy.

Jack Sweeney, 19, created a Twitter account called “Elon Musk’s Jet” in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. The account tracks the businessman’s private jet and tweets out each time it takes off or lands, providing followers with a short summary of flight information, such as the location and duration of each trip.

Musk had previously asked Sweeney to take down the account, citing safety risks, but the college student remained undeterred and had kept the account active. Musk, who took over Twitter in October, has allowed the account to remain on Twitter as part of his “commitment to free speech.”

Sweeney had stated on his personal Twitter account that the “Elon Musk’s Jet” account was not to be used to track down Musk.

However, Musk appeared to have changed his mind this week when he shared a video on Twitter which he claimed showed a “crazy stalker” blocking a vehicle that was carrying his young son and climbing onto the hood of the car.

He promptly suspended the “Elon Musk’s Jet” account and threatened legal action against Sweeney.

“Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood. Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,” Musk said.

The Washington Post’s executive editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement that Harwell was “banished from Twitter without warning, process or explanation, following the publications of his accurate reporting about Musk.”

“Our journalist should be reinstated immediately,” the statement added.

Elsewhere, Binder said he was “banned on Thursday night immediately after sharing a screenshot from CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan moments after he was suspended.”

“The screenshot was an official LAPD statement regarding the incident Elon Musk was tweeting out about last night which led him to suspending ElonJet and its creator Jack Sweeney,” Binder said. “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.”

VOA in a statement late Thursday said that Herman is a “seasoned reporter who upholds the highest journalistic standards and uses the social media platform as a news gathering and networking tool.”

The statement added that Herman has received no information from Twitter as to why his account was suspended.”

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