X Purges Prominent Journalists, Leftists With No Explanation

Ken Klippenstein, Steven Monacelli, and Alan MacLeod were all suspended from the platform.
NurPhoto / Contributor

UPDATE 1/9/24: Hours after reporting out this initial story, some of the suspended X accounts returned. X has not explained what happened and the affected account owners have no idea why they were briefly suspended. The reinstatement came after notable users such as George Galloway, a former member of the British Parliament, called out Musk for banning the accounts.


Suspended journalist Steven Monacelli told Motherboard that he wasn’t able to contact X. “The only message I received from Twitter was this buggy response to my appeal,” he said. “I think this is the reason I was unbanned. Elon Musk playing customer service rep to a far right misinfo and conspiracy theory poster.” Musk responded to far-right conspiracy theorist Jackson Hinkle’s X post calling out the suspensions before accounts were reinstated.


Image via Steven Monacelli.

The original story follows.

The X accounts of several prominent journalists and leftist pundits were suspended from the site, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday morning with no clear explanation.

The suspensions affected several journalists and commentators, including Texas Observer journalist Steven Monacelli, Ken Klippensten of The Intercept, podcaster Rob Rousseau, and Alan MacLeod of MintPress News. The landing page for their accounts says it’s been suspended, but does not give any explanation as to why. A message on the profiles simply states “X suspends accounts which violate the X rules.”

The ban didn’t just hit journalists either. Several prominent-left leaning accounts were also purged from the website, including the account for the TrueAnon podcast and @zei_squirrel, a cartoon squirrel that tweets media criticism.

The ban was carried out with no overarching explanation; suspended accounts link to the X terms of service, which cover a wide range of possible violations. 


“I haven't received any communications from Twitter/X about why I have been suspended,” Monacelli told Motherboard in an email. “I can't think of anything I've posted lately that would be worthy of suspensions. Although I have written multiple critical reports about Twitter/X and Elon Musk.”

MacLeod posted a brief explanation of events on his Telegram and Instagram accounts. “Today, without warning or explanation, Twitter suspended my account,” he said. “They told me to check my email for a reason, but no email has been forthcoming. I have never even remotely been involved in any controversy/ been reported/ been stuck in Twitter jail before, so I assume the real reason is political, especially as high-profile leftist accounts like Rob Rousseau and Ze_Squirrel were also targeted today.”

This isn't the first time the site has banned reporters. In April, it permanently suspended Wired reporter Dell Cameron after he spoke with a hacker who accessed conservative pundit Matt Walsh’s emails. In December of 2022, it suspended the accounts of ten journalists who’d been critical of site owner Elon Musk.

Motherboard could not reach X for comment, and instead received an automatic email response saying, "Busy now, please check back later." On X, Musk claimed that the bans were related to a routine spam filter sweep.

Update 1/10/24: The original text of this story referred to Ze_Squirrel as “a cartoon squirrel that tweets media criticism of figures like Glenn Greenwald. The squirrel often tweets praise of Greenwald, not criticism. We’ve updated the story and regret the error.

We’ve also added Musk’s explanation that the bans were related to a spam filter sweep.