Twitter suspended the accounts belonging to several prominent journalists covering the company’s owner, Elon Musk, a day after he vowed to sue the owner of a profile that tracks his jet.
Reporters for The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post are among those who found themselves locked out of their accounts on Thursday evening.
A Twitter spokeswoman told tech website The Verge that the ban was related to the live sharing of location data.
A spokesman for The New York Times called the suspensions “questionable and unfortunate” and said neither the paper nor reporter Ryan Mac received any explanation for the action.
CNN said the “impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters…is concerning but not surprising”. It has asked Twitter for an explanation and will “reevaluate our relationship based on that response”.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, whose account was among those suspended, said the move was significant for “the potential chilling impact” it could have for journalists, particularly those who cover Musk’s other companies.
Musk, who was briefly dethroned as the world’s richest man recently, said in a tweet that “criticising me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not”.
He added that accounts engaged in doxxing, which refers to the release of private information about individuals online, receive a temporary seven-day suspension.
In a separate tweet, he added: “If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!”
If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
Elon Musk takes legal action against Twitter account holder
On Wednesday Musk said he is taking legal action against the holder of a Twitter account that tracks his private jet, arguing it put his son at risk.
The @ElonJet account, which has more than half a million followers, was suspended on Wednesday. Its owner, Jack Sweeney, 20, used publicly available flight-tracking information to tweet every time Musk’s jet took off and landed.
“Last night, [a] car carrying [his son] lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving and climbed onto hood,” Musk tweeted.
He added that any account revealing people’s real-time locations will be suspended “as it is a physical safety violation.”
Anyone recognize this person or car? pic.twitter.com/2U0Eyx7iwl
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022