The journalists include Washington Post technology reporter Drew Harwell, New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac, Micah Lee of The Intercept, and Keith Olbermann. Twitter CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the accounts were suspended Thursday, responding to a tweet from Pirate Wires editor-in-chief Mike Solana, saying “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.”
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
“They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service,” Musk continued.
Musk later appeared in a Twitter Space call which featured Harwell, who managed to get onto the platform using an audio function. The call, hosted by Katie Natopolous of Buzzfeed, had some 30,000 listeners.
“There’s not going to be any distinction in the future between journalists or so-called journalists and regular people,” the Twitter CEO said. “Everyone’s going to be treated the same.”
“You’re not special because you’re a journalist, you are just a user of Twitter [and a] citizen,” Musk declared. “So, no special treatment. You dox, you get suspended. End of story.”
During the course of his short stay on the call, Musk also addressed “ban evasion,” or accessing Twitter while one’s account is suspended, and added that “being clever and posting a link to the real-time information is obviously simply trying to evade the meaning [of the rule] … There is no difference than actually sharing the real-time information.“
Harwell responded to Musk, saying that his suspension and those of several other journalists seemed like actions similar to the censorship Twitter conducted with regard to the New York Post’s coverage of Hunter Biden’s laptop. Asked what the difference was, Musk said, “It’s simple for me. It’s no more acceptable for you as it is for me [to dox].”
“You dox, you get suspended. End of story. That’s it,” Musk concluded before leaving the call.
Most of the reporters were covering the suspension of the @elonjet Twitter account, run by college sophomore Jack Sweeney. Sweeney established the account in 2020 to track Musk’s private jet using publicly available data in order to see how he conducted business, according to the Daily Mail. Sweeney also ran accounts that tracked the private jets of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Russian oligarchs.
@elonjet was suspended twice Wednesday over Twitter’s doxxing policy. The first suspension occurred in the morning, and the account was reinstated after Sweeney tweeted at Musk asking how long the delay for a safety response would be, the Daily Mail reported. By the evening, all of Sweeney’s accounts were suspended.
Following @elonjet’s second suspension, Musk tweeted that someone attacked a car in Los Angeles in which his infant son was travelling the night before. “Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood,” Musk tweeted. “Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family.”
Musk also tweeted a video of the incident, asking if anyone recognized the assailant. Sweeney’s connection to the incident is unclear.
Musk took over Twitter in October after buying the company in April, to the outrage of leftists. Musk, a self-declared free speech absolutist, promptly fired former Twitter executives for censoring conservative views on the platform.
Musk began releasing the “Twitter Files” earlier this month, which showcase the company’s attempt to censor opposing views. The first batch of files, released December 2 by Matt Taibbi, detailed Twitter’s censorship of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Recently released files also detail that the platform’s decision to permanently ban former president Donald Trump’s account were in violation of its own policies.