Twitter terminated the accounts of a new competitor called Mastodon and a number of well-known journalists who wrote about Twitter’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk.
Late on Thursday, journalists from newspapers such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, Mashable, and CNN were labeled as blocked and their tweets were no longer viewable.
Mr. Musk stated that the suspended profiles, which included sports and political pundit Keith Olbermann, were of individuals who had broadcast his real-time position, describing the data as “essentially assassination coordinates.”
“No one told me anything. Ryan Mac, a reporter for The New York Times, tweeted from a new account that he had not heard from the company about why he had been suspended.
He put up a screenshot from the app that said he had been banned for good. “I write about Twitter, Elon Musk, and the businesses he owns. And I will continue to do so.”
The unpredictable owner of the service then asked his followers when they thought he should lift the bans. Doxxing, which is giving out personal location information, is usually banned on the service for seven days, he said.
Drew Harwell of the Washington Post and other banned reporters were able to take part in a Twitter Spaces audio session while they were banned. This showed that Twitter’s rules aren’t always followed.
Mastodon, a competing social network, tweeted a link on its Twitter page to an account on its own service that uses publicly accessible flight data to track Mr. Musk’s private jet, prompting Twitter to suspend Mastodon‘s feed.
On Wednesday, Twitter shut down a few accounts that tracked the locations of private jets, including Mr. Musk.
Mr. Musk, who has said that he is an “absolute free speech absolutist” and who took over Twitter to get rid of censorship, tweeted that “doxxing rules apply to “journalists,” as they do to everyone else.”
Paul Barrett, who is the deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, said, “This is management as dark performance art.”
“Mr. Musk is showing us every day how dangerous [and self-destructive] it is for so much corporate power to be in the hands of a few Silicon Valley moguls.”
CNN, whose reporter was among those suspended, said, “The hasty and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising.”
“Everyone who uses Twitter should be very worried about how unstable and unpredictable the platform is getting. We’ve asked Twitter to explain, and based on what they say, we’ll think about our relationship again.”
When I sent Twitter an email asking for a comment on the journalists’ suspensions, I didn’t hear back right away.