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16 Dec, 2022 12:37

Twitter blocks journalists reporting on ElonJet flight tracker

Musk explained the bans as violating privacy policies, but polled users to ask if the accounts should be reinstated
Twitter blocks journalists reporting on ElonJet flight tracker

Elon Musk has defended his decision to temporarily suspend the Twitter accounts of several journalists who reported on and shared links to ElonJet, a website that tracks the billionaire's flights. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Musk claimed the reporters had put him and his family at risk by sharing his real-time location. 

Some time after his initial explanation, however, the billionaire launched a Twitter poll asking users if the journalists from CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, The Intercept, MSNBC, Mashable and VOX should be reinstated to the platform. 

“Unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time?” Musk asked his 121.6 million followers, providing the options of ‘now’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘seven days from now’ or ‘longer.’ After 43% said the accounts should be reinstated he relaunched the poll with just two options: ‘now’ or ‘in seven days.’ 59% of the 1.2 million votes chose ‘now’. 

Musk later doubled down on his reasoning for the ban, stating that the journalists had “posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.” 

“If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!” the billionaire tweeted, later pointing out that the “same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.” 

During a Twitter Space conference call later that day, Musk confronted one of the suspended journalists, Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, who insisted that he was merely reporting on ElonJet and that Musk had wrongfully interpreted the information. 

“You are suggesting we are sharing your address, which is not true,” he told the billionaire, who responded by explaining that sharing links to accounts or websites that share real-time location information is considered to be “ban evasion.” 

“You dox, you get suspended, end of story, that’s it” Musk proclaimed before abruptly ending the call. 

Earlier this week, Twitter suspended the accounts of Florida student Jack Sweeney, who had posted real-time data on private flights of the world’s wealthiest men, including Elon Musk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. 

Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion in late October, had previously stated that his “commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”

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