Twitter is still banning several prominent journalists from the social media platform who refuse to remove tweets they were ordered to take down.
After a storm of controversy following Elon Musk’s Twitter action, which kicked several reporters off Twitter earlier this month, Musk announced he would agree to allow the reporters back. But they had to eliminate some tweets. Reporters who do not comply remain banned, the reporters revealed.
The disputed tweets mention or link to the @ElonJet Twitter account, which tracked Musk’s private jet flights using publicly available information. Musk claimed tracking his flights risked his safety – even as he posted his own real-time locations, including when he attended the World Cup final in Qatar last Sunday.
But none of the tweets from the banned reporters on @ElonJet leaked any information about Musk or the location of his plane, despite Musk’s claim that the reporters had posted. “Assassination coordinates”, The Washington Post reported.
The reporters pointed out that their tweets were part of legitimate reporting.
Many ostracized journalists suspect Musk – who has described himself as a “free speech absolutist – of resenting others for their coverage of him.
“The rules are arbitrary and capricious,” banned reporter Steve Herman, Voice of America’s chief national correspondent, told The Post. “They seem to be based on the whims of the platform owner.”
Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell said he had no plans to delete a tweet referring to Musk’s suspension of Twitter competitor Mastodon for linking to his version of @ElonJet.
“Surely not. I’m not deleting a tweet that contained factual information and didn’t violate anyone’s rules,” Harwell said. “It’s his platform. He can ban anyone he wants. And we can point how he invents fictitious rules that precisely target the journalism he doesn’t like.
The Intercept’s Micah Lee filed an appeal with Twitter for his ban, he noted in a post, because he wrote that he didn’t want to “bend the knee to the mad king of Twitter.” Twitter responded that it would not reverse the decision, Lee reported.
“I’ve been writing critically about billionaire Elon Musk since he took over Twitter – particularly his ‘free speech’ hypocrisy and censorship of leftist accounts,” Lee wrote. “That must have made him angry.”
The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, and Fox Business’ Susan Li, among others, are also still banned from Twitter.
Musk could not be reached for comment.
United Nations officials blasted the “dangerous precedent” of Musk’s crackdown on journalists.
European Union leaders warn that Musk’s actions have already breached the continent’s digital regulations guaranteeing free speech.