- Twitter on Thursday suspended the accounts of several journalists.
- Many concerned writers had covered or criticized Elon Musk in the previous days.
- But in a tweet on Thursday, Musk suggested the suspensions were related to tracking his private jet.
Twitter on Thursday suspended several accounts belonging to prominent journalists that covered Elon Musk and his tenure on the social media site.
Among the affected accounts were Donie O’Sullivan with NC, Drew Harwell from the Washington Post, freelance writers Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster, from the New York Times ryan macand other writers on the beat of technology and Twitter.
Rupar told Insider he still doesn’t know why his account was suddenly suspended. A notice at the top of his account on Thursday said he had been “permanently suspended” and restricted to read-only mode, leaving him unable to DM or tweet, he said.
“It’s the only info from Twitter, no email, no information about the rule I might have broken,” he said.
Neither Musk nor a Twitter representative immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.
The deluge of suspensions comes a day after Twitter suspended the account of 20-year-old student Jack Sweeney, who created a tool that automatically posted updates on the location of Musk’s private jet, and threatened legal action against him . The company soon after changed his rules to prohibit publishing a person’s “live location”.
Later Thursday night, Musk appeared to suggest that the journalists’ suspensions were also tied to the private jet’s suspension. The Billionaire CEO replied to a user’s tweet saying they had confirmed that “about half” of suspended accounts had posted links to the jet tracker.
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
Some of the suspended journalists had previously tweeted about @ElonJet and its continued presence on Mastodon, a social media platform that has marketed itself as an alternative to Twitter. Twitter also suspended Mastodon’s account on Thursday.
But Rupar told Insider he doesn’t believe he tweeted or even retweeted anything about the ongoing private jet saga. He also didn’t believe he had posted material that violated copyright law – another cause for suspension. Rupar, however, tweeted critically about Musk the day before his account was suspended, he said.
“That leads me to infer that I guess it was something critical that I posted about Elon,” he said of the reason for his suspension. “Maybe that’s why I haven’t gotten any information from Twitter; they’re probably not going to come out and say that.”
Micah Lee, a reporter covering technology at The Intercept, told Insider he believed he was suspended because he tweeted about the suspension of competitor Mastodon. Lee said he has yet to receive any notice from the company explaining his decision.
Ben Collins, NBC News reporter compiled a rolling list of at least eight accounts that have been suspended as of Thursday night. Almost all of them had reported on Twitter, covered Musk or written critically about the billionaire in the days leading up to his suspension.
The suspensions are the latest development in Musk’s continued rollback on his promise to be a “free speech absolutist.” But in another tweet reply on Thursday night, Musk insisted that the suspensions were not motivated by critical coverage.