Twitter on Thursday suspended the accounts of journalists from The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, The Intercept and Mashable and other news publications who recently wrote about the micro-blogging platform’s owner Elon Musk, Reuters reported.
The accounts were suspended a day after Twitter altered its policies on accounts that track private jets, including the one owned by Elon Musk. Musk had threatened legal action against these accounts, many of which were operated by 20-year-old Jack Sweeny, saying that his son was being stalked.
On Friday, the billionaire said that Twitter’s rules on doxxing, which refers to sharing personal documents, such as the residential address of a person, applies to journalists like everyone.
Twitter’s head of trust and safety told The Verge in an email that the microblogging platform will suspend any account that violates their privacy policies and put other users at risk.
“We don’t make exceptions to this policy for journalists or any other accounts,” she added.
Journalists and media organisations have spoken against the suspension.
A spokesperson for The New York Times said that suspending the account of its journalist, Ryan Mac, along with several others, is questionable and unfortunate.
“Neither The Times nor Ryan have received any explanation about why this occurred,” the newspaper said. “We hope that all of the journalists’ accounts are reinstated and that Twitter provides a satisfying explanation for this action.”
CNN said that it has asked Twitter for the reason behind suspending the account of its journalist, Donnie O’Sullivan.
“Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Sweeny, who operated the account that tracked Musk’s private jet, on Thursday opened another account on Mastodon, which is considered Twitter’s rival.
Mastodon used Twitter to promote Sweeny’s account, The New York Times reported. Subsequently, Twitter suspended Mastodon’s account.
The news of Mastodon’s suspension was shared by some journalists, after which their accounts were revoked.
Musk, who completed his $44 billion (over Rs 3,36,910 crore) takeover of Twitter, has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” in the past.
After he announced his bid to buy the microblogging site, some human rights groups had expressed concern that such a stance on free speech could mean that Twitter might allow greater leeway to hate speech and misinformation, which may have an impact on offline violence.
On April 27, Musk said, “By ‘free speech’, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.” He also criticised those who had questioned him, calling it an “extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech”.