() — Twitter reinstated the accounts of several journalists who were abruptly suspended from the platform on Thursday after Elon Musk falsely claimed that reporters had shared his “exact real-time” location, a move that put Musk’s supposed commitment to freedom of expression.
Musk made it a condition of his return to Twitter to remove tweets that he falsely claimed shared his “exact real-time” location.
‘s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and other journalists who have followed the news around Musk in recent weeks were reinstated on the platform early Saturday, after Musk Post a poll on your Twitter account. asking users when it should reset accounts. The 24-hour poll concluded Friday night with 59% voting to restore accounts “now” and 41% voting to restore accounts after seven days. More than 3.6 million votes were counted, according to the publication.
“The people have spoken,” Musk wrote. “Accounts that used my location will be lifted now.”
Musk has used polls to determine whether suspended accounts, including that of former President Donald Trump, should be allowed back on the platform.
But although the accounts became publicly visible again on Saturday, journalists were barred from posting until they removed the tweets Musk said violated Twitter rules.
Twitter had already demanded the removal of the offending tweets in order for users to regain access to their accounts, but the journalists strongly denied that their posts violated Twitter rules.
After O’Sullivan’s account was restored early Saturday, a Twitter notice said he had been suspended for “violating our rules against posting private information” and required him to delete a tweet before he was allowed back. to publish on the platform, with an option to appeal. O’Sullivan’s tweet that sparked the controversy included an article about a competing social media service that Twitter had previously suspended for hosting a private jet tracking account that had tracked the location of Musk’s plane.
O’Sullivan and Harwell told on Saturday morning that they had not agreed to remove the tweets and instead selected an option to appeal the decision.
“It’s journalism,” Harwell wrote in his appeal, a copy of which was provided to . Harwell added that his tweet did not include a “link to anyone’s private information.”
Rupar told that he ultimately decided to just delete the tweet and put the episode behind him, though he described the whole thing as “a bit [sic] absurd, obviously.”
It was not clear what Mac had decided to do.
The suspension of the journalists was met with swift condemnation from news organizations, the ACLU, the United Nations, Democratic members of Congress and others, and marked a major attempt by the platform’s new owner and self-described absolutist of freedom of expression to exercise its unilateral authority on the platform to censor the press.
Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to ‘s request for comment, and the platform did not formally state why the journalists had been removed. A spokesperson said Thursday that the company has asked Twitter for an explanation and that it would “reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
But in a series of sporadic tweets, Musk claimed Thursday that journalists had violated his new “doxing” policy by sharing his “exact real-time” location, equivalent to what he described as “coordinates for a murder.” None of the censored journalists appeared to have shared Musk’s real-time location.
Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan reported on Twitter that the social media company had suspended the account of an emerging social networking service called Mastodonwhich allowed for the continued posting of @ElonJet, an account that posts the updated location of Musk’s private account.
The other reporters suspended Thursday had also recently written about the aircraft tracking account, which Twitter permanently suspended the day before when it implemented a new policy that prohibits sharing real-time location data. The move marked a sharp departure from Musk’s pledge last month to keep his account open as part of his “commitment to free speech.”