The accounts of several high profile US journalists were suspended by Elon Musk’s Twitter on Thursday evening, with the billionaire suggesting they fell foul of a recently created policy on sharing location information.
At least seven prominent reporters who cover Musk and his company were removed from the platform. They included Ryan Mac of the New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN and Drew Harwell of the Washington Post.
The suspensions followed controversy over the deletion of “elonjet”, an account, set up by Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old US student, that was sharing publicly-available data as to the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet.
After removing the elonjet account, Musk on Wednesday announced a change of policy on Twitter that prohibits any disclosure of any users’ “live” location. He said the elonjet account had put his family at risk, referencing what he said was an altercation involving his son and a “crazy stalker”. Musk said he planned to take legal action against Sweeney.
Some of the suspended journalists, through their reporting, had made reference to a new “elonjet” account set up by Sweeney on Mastodon, an emerging rival to Twitter. The Twitter account belonging to the non-profit company that develops Mastodon was also suspended on Thursday.
“Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” Musk wrote on Twitter following the bans. In online parlance, “doxxing” typically refers to the act of publishing previously private information about a person, such as a home address.
Musk had previously said that the existence of the elonjet account on Twitter was evidence of his commitment to free speech on the platform.
Musk could not be reached for further comment. Twitter no longer has a public relations team.