Elon Musk reinstates Twitter accounts of suspended journalists

Elon Musk has lifted the suspensions of the Twitter accounts of several journalists he had banned a day earlier, after the second poll he conducted on the topic went against his preferred outcome.

On Thursday, Musk suspended a group of tech journalists from the website, including Ryan Mac from the New York Times, Drew Harwell of the Washington Post and CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, for what he said were breaches of the company’s new rule about revealing people’s locations.

After an initial poll supported an immediate reversal of the bans on Thursday, Musk said there were too many options, and ran another poll for 24 hours with just two options: to keep the ban in place for seven days, or lift the ban immediately.

After close to 3.7m votes, users voted to lift the ban 58.7% to 41.3%.

In a tweet shortly after, Musk said he would lift the bans, and several of those users returned to the platform.

“The people have spoken,” Musk tweeted.

The new rule bars users from publishing “live location information” that would “reveal a person’s location, regardless if this information is publicly available”.

Musk claimed the journalists had “doxxed” him, but in fact they had recently published articles about Musk’s suspension of a Twitter account that had shared publicly available data about the movements of his private jet. The articles written by several of the reporters before their accounts were suspended did not include information about Musk’s real-time location, or the location of any of his family members.

The ElonJet account that was dedicated to tweeting the location of his private jet remained suspended at the time of reporting.

The suspension of the accounts of reporters who cover Musk was widely condemned by their employers, other media organisations, the EU and the United Nations.

It was a chaotic 24 hours on Twitter even by the standard set by Musk since he took over the platform. In a Twitter Spaces event after the suspensions were announced, Musk briefly entered and was questioned by some of the journalists who had their accounts suspended, but were nevertheless able to participate in the Spaces event.

He said journalists were not being treated differently to other citizens. “If you doxx, you get suspended. That’s it. End of story.”

After further questioning from the host, BuzzFeed News tech reporter Katie Notopoulos, Musk left the event, and not long after the Space abruptly ended and was then deleted entirely by Twitter.

Then Twitter took the entire Spaces product offline for almost a day, with Musk saying a “legacy bug” needed to be fixed. After it returned, Notopoulos found she had been banned from Spaces.

Twitter also targeted its nearest rival, Mastodon, banning linking to several Mastodon servers and blocking users from adding their Mastodon username to their profile.

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