Twitter erupted in controversy this week when the platform suspended an account that exclusively posted real-time tracking information about tech billionaire owner Elon Musk’s private jet after that account was ostensibly linked to an alleged incident involving a stalker and Musk’s young son.
The situation then blew up Thursday when several Musk-critical media figures and reporters were also suspended from the platform for purportedly violating a new Twitter policy that prohibited “doxxing” in the form of sharing a person’s real-time location information, Fox News reported.
At least eight fairly prominent journalists — including from outlets like CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Intercept, and Voice of America — were summarily suspended, supposedly without explanation, though most likely for sharing the same prohibited info and links as the jet tracking account.
Most, if not all, of those reporters will soon have their Twitter accounts restored, if not already, but not before they and their employers and many others in the media on both the left and right pitched a hilariously indignant fit over the small taste they had received of the standard treatment countless conservatives and independents on the platform have endured for many years.
Suspended for violation of new anti-doxxing policy
According to Breitbart, Musk posted Wednesday night about the alleged stalker incident involving his son, threatened possible legal action against the individual who tracks his private jet, and announced, “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.”
Yet, whether they were oblivious to the new rule or simply thought it didn’t apply to them, the several Musk-critical journalists proceeded to share screenshots of the suspended @ElonJet account or links to a tracking website and then found themselves suspended from the platform as well.
Amid the outrage over the suspension of the reporters, Twitter’s new head of Trust and Safety, Ella Irwin, said in a statement Thursday evening, “Without commenting on any specific accounts, I can confirm that we will suspend any accounts that violate our privacy policies and put other users at risk.”
Furthermore, with respect to the new policy against posting “live location information,” Irwin added, “We don’t make exceptions to this policy for journalists or any other accounts.”
Media ignores reasoning for new policy, suspensions, demand immediate reinstatement
At the same time, in response to a user who had linked several of the suspended reporters to the jet tracking account and the new policy, Musk himself noted, “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” and added a short time later, “They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.”
They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
Of course, that explanation was insufficient for the Musk-hating media, and in the meantime, CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy compiled a lengthy tweet thread documenting the reporter suspensions and outraged statements from their various employers that demanded they be immediately reinstated on the platform.
Accounts will be restored
Eventually, as he has shown a tendency to do, Musk put the whole thing up for a democratic vote among Twitter users and asked if the suspended journalists should have their accounts restored “Now” or “In 7 days,” and by a margin of 58.7 percent to 41.3 percent among more than 3.6 million votes, the clear choice was “now.”
Prior to that, however, Musk called out the hypocrisy of the media’s indignation over the suspensions and aptly tweeted, “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!”
This whole situation will eventually blow over as the suspended accounts are restored and the media moves on to some other perceived transgression by Musk to complain about, but in the meantime, it has been a bit enjoyable for some Twitter users who’ve been on the receiving end of inexplicable bans, account limitations, and arbitrarily enforced policies to watch the other side squirm under similar treatment for a change.