Twitter Purges Several Journalists Who Cover Elon Musk

Twitter suspended a number of journalists who covered and criticized owner Elon Musk, who once claimed to be a champion of free speech.
Twitter Purges Several Journalists Who Cover Elon Musk
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On Thursday night, Twitter banned a number of prominent journalists who had reported on Elon Musk and in some cases criticized him. 

Some of the banned journalists—Mashable's Matt Binder and CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, for example—had shared an update from the LAPD on Musk's recent claim that a man had attacked a car carrying his child, saying that no crime report had been filed (Motherboard has not independently verified this quote). Others, as captured in a Twitter thread by NBC's Ben Collins, merely tweeted about Musk's ban of competitor social media platform Mastodon's Twitter account, which also happened on Thursday. New York Times reporter Ryan Mac was also banned. 


"Loving the free speech," Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell's final tweet said

Keith Olberman's last tweet before being banned, as captured by Collins, was a tweet encouraging others to share the materials that had gotten other journalists banned. 

“Tonight’s suspension of the Twitter accounts of a number of prominent journalists, including The New York Times’s Ryan Mac, is questionable and unfortunate," a spokesperson for The New York Times told Motherboard. "Neither The Times nor Ryan have received any explanation about why this occurred. We hope that all of  the journalists’ accounts are reinstated and that Twitter provides a satisfying explanation for this action.”

Motherboard reached out to Mashable, The Washington Post, and CNN, and will update this post when we hear from them. 

Mastodon's account was banned after sharing a link to the Mastodon profile for @elonjet, a bot by 20-year-old programmer Jack Sweeney that automatically tweets the location of Musk's plane based on publicly-available data pulled from transponders required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Twitter banned @elonjet, Sweeney's personal account, and dozens of other flight tracking accounts on Wednesday night in a chaotic spectacle that ended with Musk's claim about the assailant in LA and him tweeting a video of an unknown man and his license plate and asking his 121 million followers to identify him. 

Elon Musk purchased Twitter earlier this year in a $44 billion dollar deal. He framed himself as a champion of free speech and made a number of claims, including that he was not in favor of censorship that goes beyond the letter of the law. He specifically said that he would not ban accounts tracking his plane due to his commitment to free speech.