Musk reinstates suspended journalists after Twitter poll

Several high-profile journalists who were suspended from Twitter on Thursday evening were reinstated early Saturday.

“The people have spoken,” Elon Musk tweeted.

Twitter users voted in a poll posted by Musk to reinstate the accounts, which were cut off without warning. The social media platform’s new owner has recently used Twitter polls for several high-profile decisions including the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump’s account.

The accounts of Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steve Herman of Voice of America and independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster were all suspended Thursday evening.

“Matt Binder is back,” the Mashable journalist tweeted early Saturday.

Olbermann’s account appeared to remain suspended Saturday morning.

Musk had said the suspensions would last seven days, but early Saturday said that the “accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now.”

He has accused the journalists of sharing private information about his whereabouts, which he described as “basically assassination coordinates.” NBC News was unable to verify that allegation.

“You doxx, you get suspended. End of story. That’s it,” Musk said Thursday night in a Twitter Space audio discussion, explaining his latest policy to more than 30,000 listeners.

He was referring to Twitter’s latest rule change about accounts that track private jets, including one owned by Musk, which was introduced Wednesday.

Several of the suspended reporters had been writing about the new policy and Musk’s rationale for imposing it, which involved his allegations about a stalking incident he said affected his family Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

He tweeted Wednesday that a car one of his children was in was followed and blocked from moving by a driver, who Musk said got on top of the hood of the car with his child in it.

The Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday that no police reports had been filed. Other law enforcement departments also cover parts of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Musk said, “Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info.”

“Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok,” Musk added. 

The accounts that were suspended, though, did not tweet about the real-time location of the car Musk said his child was in. One of the banned accounts, “@elonjet,” previously tweeted flight data showing the location of Musk’s private jet. Some of the journalists who were banned had previously tweeted links to the account and other profiles run by creator Jack Sweeney, whose personal Twitter account was also suspended.

Flight data includes where a plane lands, but it does not track a plane’s occupants outside the plane itself, so it could not be used to trace the real-time location of Musk or his children if they were not onboard or near the plane. 

The account for Mastodon, a platform that has emerged as one of Twitter’s major competitors, was suspended Thursday as well, and links to Mastodon and other autonomous, decentralized networks were blocked as “unsafe” links that could no longer be tweeted.

The suspensions Thursday were sharply criticized by free speech experts, and Musk cheerleaders and some conservative influencers joined in condemning the move.

Musk had vowed to run Twitter as a free speech absolutist, and since taking control has reinstated accounts associated with the QAnon movement and other far-right groups but banned others.

He has also removed critics of his policies from the company. 

The Associated Press, David Ingram and Jason Abbruzzese contributed.

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