Elon Musk has reinstated many journalists’ Twitter accounts that were suspended for a day due to a disagreement over providing open information on the billionaire’s jet.
The unprecedented bans imposed on Friday sparked harsh criticism from government authorities, advocacy groups, and journalistic organisations around the world, with some claiming that the microblogging platform was harming press freedom. These suspensions were followed by reinstatements.
Musk later conducted a Twitter poll, which found that the vast majority of respondents wanted the accounts restored as soon as possible.
“The populace has spoken. Musk tweeted on Saturday that accounts that doxxed my whereabouts would no longer be suspended.
Twitter did not respond immediately to a request for comment from Reuters.
According to Reuters, the suspended accounts, including those of journalists from the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post, have been restored.
EU representatives from France, Germany, Britain, and the United Kingdom had already condemned the suspensions.
Critics saw the episode, called the “Thursday Night Massacre” by one famous security researcher, as further proof that Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” silences users and offensive comments.
Tesla, Musk’s electric vehicle manufacturer, saw its shares tumble 4.7% on Friday, marking the company’s largest weekly drop since March 2020, as investors grew concerned about Musk’s proclivity for distraction and the faltering global economy.
Roland Lescure, France’s industry minister, announced on Friday that he will quit using Twitter after Elon Musk suspended journalists.
The suspensions outraged Melissa Fleming, the UN’s head of communications, who tweeted that “media freedom is not a toy.”
The German Foreign Office told Twitter that it was concerned about activities that harmed press freedom.
The suspensions were the consequence of a disagreement over the ElonJet Twitter account, which used publicly available information to track Musk’s private plane.
Despite Musk’s earlier statement that he would not ban ElonJet in the name of free expression, Twitter suspended the account, along with others that monitored private planes, on Wednesday.
Twitter soon changed its privacy guidelines to restrict the publication of “live location information”.
Then, on Thursday night, a number of journalists’ Twitter accounts were suspended, including those from the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post.
“I recognise that the emphasis appears to be largely on journalist accounts, however we implemented the policy equally to journalists and non-journalist accounts today,” Irwin stated in the email.
According to a statement made on Friday by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, the spirit of the First Amendment and the assumption that social media platforms will allow the unfettered distribution of information that is already in the public arena are breached.
Musk accused the media of broadcasting his real-time whereabouts, which is effectively the location of his family’s murder attempts.
The billionaire temporarily took part in a Twitter Spaces audio conference sponsored by journalists, which quickly turned into a heated dispute over whether the journalists had actually divulged Musk’s real-time position in breach of the regulation.
“If you dox, you are suspended. “End of discussion,” Musk always said in response to questions. The practise of publishing private information about someone, often with malicious intent, is known as “doxing.”
Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, one of the journalists who had been suspended but could still join in the audio chat, rejected the notion that by posting a link to ElonJet, he had exposed Musk or his family’s actual location.
BuzzFeed reporter Katie Notopoulos, who hosted the Spaces conversation, tweeted shortly after that the audio session had ended abruptly and that no tape was available.
“We’re correcting a Legacy problem,” Musk wrote in a tweet to explain what had happened. I have to go to work tomorrow.