Twitter is still banning several prominent journalists from the social media platform who are refusing to delete tweets they were ordered to eliminate.
After a firestorm of controversy following Elon Musk’s Twitter action booting several journalists off Twitter earlier this month, Musk announced he would agree to allow reporters back on. But they had to eliminate certain tweets. Reporters who won’t comply remain banned, the journalists have revealed.
The disputed tweets mention or link to Twitter account @ElonJet, which has tracked Musk’s private jet flights using publicly available information. Musk has claimed tracking his flights risk his safety — even though he has posted his own real-time locations, including when he attended the World Cup final in Qatar just last Sunday.
But not one of the banned journalists’ tweets about @ElonJet disclosed information about Musk or his jet’s location, despite Musk’s claim that the journalists had posted “assassination coordinates,” The Washington Post reported.
The journalists have pointed out that their tweets are part of legitimate reporting.
Many of the ostracized journalists suspect Musk — who has described himself as a “free speech absolutist — is holding other grudges against them over their coverage of him.
“The rules are arbitrary and capricious,” banned journalist Steve Herman, Voice of America’s chief national correspondent, told the Post. “They appear to be based on the whims of the owner of the platform.”
Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell said he has no intention of deleting a tweet which referred to Musk’s suspension of Twitter competitor Mastodon over its link to its version of @ElonJet.
“Hell, no. I’m not deleting a tweet that contained factual information and didn’t violate anyone’s rules,” Harwell said. “It’s his platform. He can ban anyone he wants. And we can point out how he’s making up pretextual rules that just so happen to target journalism he doesn’t like.”
Micah Lee of the Intercept filed an appeal to Twitter on his banishment, he noted in an article, because he wrote that he didn’t want to “bend the knee to the Mad King of Twitter.” Twitter responded that it would not overturn the decision, Lee reported.
“I’ve been writing critically about billionaire Elon Musk since he took over Twitter — particularly about his “free speech” hypocrisy and his censorship of left-wing accounts,” Lee wrote. “This must have angered him.”
Ryan Mac of the New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN and Susan Li of Fox Business, among others, are also still banned on Twitter.
Musk could not be reached for comment.
United Nations officials have blasted the “dangerous precedent” of Musk’s crackdown on journalists.
European Union leaders are warning that Musk’s actions have already run afoul of the continent’s digital regulations ensuring free speech.