Elon Musk banned at least nine journalists from Twitter Thursday night, reports Gizmodo. And while journalists were not told what caused the blocking, many of them tweeted about an account that tracked Elon’s private jet using publicly available information.
The blocking of journalists, known as a “permanent suspension” in Twitter jargon, comes after Musk on Wednesday blocked ElonJet‘s account, later explaining that he believed it was a threat to his family’s safety. Musk said he plans to sue the college student who ran the account. Just a few weeks earlier, Musk had insisted that the account would not be blocked because he strongly believes in freedom of speech.
“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” Musk wrote on Nov. 6.
Musk appeared to confirm that the bans applied to his private jet, tweeting late Thursday: “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.” Doxxing, doxing (dropping docs) is the practice of collecting and publishing personal or other information from open sources about a certain person or organization that can reveal personal data.
Musk also briefly joined a Twitter Spaces conversation hosted by BuzzFeed journalist Katie Notopoulos where he said that journalists weren’t special and would be banned for any “doxxing” behavior. Musk claimed the journalists who’ve been banned shared his address, something that simply isn’t true. When the journalists on the Twitter Spaces conversation tried to ask Musk follow-up questions he just left the chat.
“You dox, you get suspended, end of story,” Musk said.
Aaron Rupar, an independent journalist who previously worked at Vox, told Gizmodo that Twitter provided no explanation for his ban.
“I would appreciate it if someone at Twitter would try to explain the rationale for this. Twitter is obviously a huge, huge part of my audience, so as an independent journalist being cut off from that really hurts,” Rupar told.
Twitter no longer has a public affairs team that can be reached, but Twitter’s head of trust and safety Ella Irwin told The Verge’s Alex Heath that the accounts allegedly put people “at risk.”
Elon Musk created a Twitter poll asking if and when he should reinstate journalists who have been banned for tweeting about the ElonJets account. But after his first poll showed a majority of people wanted journalists reinstated “immediately,” Musk was clearly not happy with that result.
“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,” Irwin told the Verge.
“Sorry, too many options, will redo the poll,” Musk wrote on Twitter.
It looks like whatever results Musk gets from his new poll, he’ll ignore them until he gets the answer he’s looking for.