Several prominent journalists that cover Twitter and its new CEO Elon Musk were suspended from the social media platform on Thursday night.
Ryan Mac from The New York Times, Drew Harwell from The Washington Post, Donie O’Sullivan from CNN, Micah Lee from The Intercept, Matt Binder from Mashable, independent journalists Aaron Rupar and Tony Webster and political commentator Keith Olbermann all appear to have had their accounts suspended.
The series of suspensions came on the heels of Twitter’s decision to suspend Mastodon’s official account. The social media platform has arisen as a potential alternative Twitter in the wake of Musk’s chaotic takeover of the company.
Several of the suspended journalists had recently covered Musk’s dispute with Jack Sweeney, who ran a Twitter account that tracked the movements of the billionaire’s jet. That account was suspended on Tuesday, despite Musk’s vows not to ban it just weeks before. Sweeney’s personal account was also suspended.
In response to several tweets about the suspensions, Musk suggested that the journalists were removed for violating the platform’s rules against doxxing.
“Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” he said, adding in a separate tweet, “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”
The Times’s spokesman Charlie Stadtlander said in a statement that the suspension of Mac and the other journalists was “questionable and unfortunate.”
“Neither The Times nor Ryan have received any explanation about why this occurred,” Stadtlander said. “We hope that all of the journalists’ accounts are reinstated and that Twitter provides a satisfying explanation for this action.”
CNN said in a statement that the “impulsive and unjustified suspension” was “concerning but not surprising.”
“Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses the platform,” the outlet said. “We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Sally Buzbee, the Post’s executive editor, said the decision to suspend the paper’s technology reporter “directly undermines Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech.”
“Harwell was banished from Twitter without warning, process or explanation, following the publication of his accurate reporting about Musk,” Buzbee said in a statement. “Our journalist should be reinstated immediately.”
Musk, who acquired Twitter in late October for $44 billion, has previously described himself as a “free-speech absolutist” and pledged to return “free speech” to the platform by reining in the previous leadership’s content moderation policies. The billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla made a point to reinstate several previously banned accounts, including that of former President Trump, in his first few weeks atop the company.
The Hill has reached out to Twitter for comment.