Twitter Suspends Accounts of Several Journalists Who Covered or Criticized Elon Musk

It wasn’t immediately clear why the accounts had been suspended

Elon Musk
Elon Musk (Getty Images)

Twitter suspended the accounts on Thursday night of several journalists who have covered or been critical of Elon Musk, including former MSNBC and ESPN host Keith Olbermann, without explanation.

Ben Collins, himself a reporter for NBC News, tweeted out a number of accounts whose links led to an “account suspended” page.

Darkened accounts Thursday included technology writer Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Ryan Mac of the New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan from CNN, Matt Binder from Mashable, Micha Lee of The Intercept, media pundit Olbermann and Aaron Rupar and Tony Webster, both independent journalists.

The account of the social-media platform Mastadon was also suspended. According to reports, Twitter was also blocking any tweets that link the servers Mastodon uses.

“I was banned on Thursday night immediately after sharing a screenshot from CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan moments after he was suspended,” Binder told Rolling Stone. “The screenshot was an official LAPD statement regarding the incident Elon Musk was tweeting out about last night which led him to suspending ElonJet and its creator Jack Sweeney. I did not share any location data, as per Twitter’s new terms. Nor did I share any links to ElonJet or other location tracking accounts. I have been highly critical of Musk but never broke any of Twitter’s listed policies.”

CNN called the suspensions “impulsive and unjustified” and said they were concerning but not surprising.

“Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern to everyone who uses the platform,” CNN said in a statement. “We have asked Twitter for an explanation.”

The New York Times also weighed in Thursday.

“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,” Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander said in a statement to media. “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.”

Musk had not tweeted about the suspensions since the news began percolating Thursday evening.

The Washington Post reported that the accounts began disappearing after 7 p.m. ET, and that the journalists involved had all covered the @ElonJet account, which had been tracking Musk’s travel in real-time. Musk took issue with the account he had previously said he would not disrupt after a run-in with an alleged stalker who he says jumped on a car his young son was riding in Wednesday, mistakenly thinking Musk was in it.

Musk’s response was a realtime Twitter rule change: No more giving up people’s locations, unless they are “slightly delayed” behind the traveler.

While the suspended journalists had all been covering the dispute, it wasn’t clear how, if at all, they had violated even these brand-new rules. Collins had a screen shot of Olbermann’s last tweet, which was trying to amplify whatever Rupar and Webster were up to, but what they were doing was not immediately clear.

The account suspensions seemed to be in stark contrast to a tweet Musk posted in April.