Twitter Inc. suspended the accounts of upstart rival service Mastodon and several prominent journalists covering the social network’s billionaire owner Elon Musk.
Late Thursday, reporters from publications including the Washington Post, the New York Times, Mashable and CNN were listed as blocked and their tweets were no longer visible, with the company’s standard notice saying it “suspends accounts that violate the Twitter rules.”
“I was given no warning. I have no email or communication from the company about the reason for suspension,” New York Times reporter Ryan Mac tweeted from a new account. He posted a screen grab from the app saying he’s been permanently suspended. “I report on Twitter, Elon Musk and his companies. And I will continue to do so.”
Also affected was sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann. Musk said Olbermann will be subject to a 7-day suspension for doxxing. In a separate tweet, he alleged the suspended journalists had posted his exact real-time location, describing the information as “basically assassination coordinates.”
The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, alongside other banned reporters, was able to participate in a Twitter Spaces audio session while under suspension, exposing a loophole in Twitter’s enforcement.
Twitter earlier cut off the feed of competing social network Mastodon, which had posted a link on its Twitter page to an account on its own service that uses publicly available flight data to track Musk’s private jet. On Wednesday, Twitter had suspended multiple profiles that tracked private jet locations, including Musk’s.
Musk, who has called himself a free-speech absolutist and took over Twitter with the stated goal of eliminating censorship, tweeted that “doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.”
“This is management as dark performance art,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, in an email. “The one thing for which we can all thank Musk is that he’s demonstrating, day by day, how dangerous (and self-destructive) it is for so much corporate power to be concentrated in the hands of a few Silicon Valley moguls.”
CNN, whose reporter was swept up in the rash of suspensions, responded by saying “the impulsive and unjustified suspension 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 for everyone who uses the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
An email to Twitter seeking comment on the journalists’ suspensions wasn’t immediately returned.