After prominent media critics of Twitter owner Elon Musk were banned from the platform without any explanation on Thursday, a statement was finally offered.
In a series of tweets, Musk said that journalists – CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan, New York Times tech reporter Ryan Mac, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell, The Intercept reporter Micah Lee, Mashable writer Matt Binder, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and former Vox reporter Aaron Rupar – allegedly violated the platform’s new policy of not sharing location information.
Musk defended his decision to suspend journalists and said they would stay off the platform for seven days.
Hours later, Musk surveyed his 121.6 million followers on whether journalists should be reinstated.
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“Unsuspend accounts that learn my exact location in real time?” asked with a poll of options, “Now, Tomorrow, Seven days from now, [or] long.”
Musk shelved the survey after 43% said accounts should be reinstated and 57% collectively said they should be suspended.
He then started a new poll with only two options: “Now” or “In seven days.”
The “Now” option was up 41% versus 59% with over 1.2 million votes.
Musk announced that journalists were suspended for sharing his “real-time location,” a claim he has repeatedly defended on Twitter.
“They posted my full real-time location, basically the assassination coordinates (clearly) in direct violation of Twitter’s terms of service,” Musk wrote on Thursday evening.
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Musk added: “If someone had published the real-time locations and addresses of NYT reporters, the FBI would investigate, there would be hearings on Capitol Hill, and Biden would talk about the end of democracy!”
In another tweet, he said: “The same rules of doxxing apply to ‘journalists’ as for everyone else.”
“Accounts doxxing will get a temporary 7-day suspension,” Musk continued.
And, “It’s okay to criticize me all day, but it’s not okay to reveal my real-time location and endanger my family.”
Late Thursday evening, Musk further defended his actions during a Twitter Spaces conference chat hosted by Buzzfeed’s journalist Katie Notopoulos.
During the call, Musk was asked to respond to the decision to ban “a handful of journalists.”
“Yeah, so I’m sure everyone who has been doxxed agrees that it’s inappropriate to share real-time information about someone’s location, and I think not everyone in this conversation would want that done to them,” Musk said.
“There will be no distinction between journalists or so-called journalists and ordinary people in the future,” he said. “Everyone will be treated the same.”
“You’re not special because you’re a journalist, you’re just a Twitter user. [and a] citizen,” Musk reiterated, “so no special treatment. If you dox, you get suspended. End of story.”
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He also explained that “hijacking the ban” or “being smart and posting a link to real-time information is clearly trying to evade meaning” providing access to the platform during or after the suspension. [of the rule]”
“There is no difference from really sharing real-time information,” Musk said.
Notopoulos tried to defend the banned journalists, saying they were “reporting” about Musk’s real-time flight location, and shared the link as “pretty normal journalistic efforts.”
“Do you see this as a cunning attempt to evade the ban?” asked.
Musk reiterated his earlier statement: “If you share the link to the real-time information. [it is] avoid prohibition, obviously.”
Notopoulos then asked the Twitter-banned Post’s Drew Harwell if he had posted the link to the real-time information.
“I don’t think you sent the link,” he said, and asked her to explain.
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Harwell claimed that Musk was extracting information incorrectly.
“You’re suggesting we share your address, which is not true,” he told Musk, who objected.
“Right,” Musk replied promptly.
“I never shared your address,” Harwell replied.
“You shared the link to the address,” the Twitter chief replied.
“When we were reporting on ElonJet, we sent links to ElonJet,” admitted the Post’s reporter.
Harwell later said Twitter disabled tweets from reporters who linked to any of ElonJet’s accounts on Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere, “using the same link blocking technique.” story in 2020.
“What’s the difference from here and there?” the reporter asked.
“Simple for me,” Musk replied. “It’s just as unacceptable to you as it is to me. [to dox]”
“If you dox, you’ll be suspended, that’s the end of the story,” the Twitter administrator said before suddenly signing out.
Journalists tried to ask more follow-up questions before discovering that Musk had stopped speaking.
The Spaces search then ended.
Notopoulos tweeted, “Sorry, Space seems cut off, the screen suddenly went black on my side and everyone turned on.”
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Musk, who describes himself as an absolutist of free speech, has drawn backlash from his critics for the suspensions, subsequent tweets and the Spaces call.
Many continue to demand that it restore accounts.
This story is evolving and will be updated.