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Photo illustration. The Intercept/Getty Images

I was writing Criticism of billionaire Elon Musk since he took over Twitter, particularly his hypocrisy of “free speech” and censorship of left-leaning accounts. This must have angered him. Last week he kicked me and eight other journalists off Twitter.

We all noted that Musk censored the Twitter account @ElonJet, which used public data to post the location of his private jet, but that @ElonJet moved to rival social networks like Mastodon. which do not censor the account. Musk accused us of “doxing“he publishing”kill coordinates” and then tried to blame his outburst on alleged stalking unrelated to the @ElonJet account.

My suspension only lasted a few days before my account was reinstated. When people visit my Twitter the profile, it no longer says “account suspended” and it looks like I’m back on the platform. Friends and strangers alike have reached out to me saying it’s good to see me back on Twitter. It’s an illusion.

In fact, I’m still locked out of my Twitter account unless I agree to delete a specific tweet the billionaire’s directive. Some of the other suspended journalists are in the same boat. (Twitter, whose communications team was decimated by Musk’s firing, did not immediately respond to a message for comment.)

When I log into my Twitter account, the site is replaced with the message “Your account is locked.” Twitter accuses me of violating its rules for posting personal information. (In the 13 years I’ve been using Twitter, I’ve never broken any rules, and my account has never been suspended or banned so far.)

To unlock my account, I have to delete the offending tweet, which in my case said: “Twitter just banned Mastodon’s official Twitter account @joinmastodon with 174,000 followers, possibly because it tweeted a link to @ElonJet’s Mastodon account. Twitter is now censoring posting the link, but the user is @[email protected]»

remove tweet screenshot

Screenshot: Micah Lee

I didn’t want to to bend the knee to the mad king of Twitter, so I filed an appeal. “My tweet is about the censorship of Mastodon, a Twitter rival social network,” I wrote. “This is a suppression of speech that would never have happened before Elon Musk was in charge.” Two days later I got an update from Twitter. “Our support team has determined that a breach has occurred, and therefore we will not reverse our decision.”

My alleged offense is that I posted personal information on Twitter by linking to @ElotJet’s page on Mastodon or, in my case, mentioning the username and showing the link in a screenshot. This is absurd on its face. I haven’t released any personal information, much less “kill coordinates”, but a quick search on Twitter https://mastodon.social/@ElonJet shows that many other accounts have is installed this same link is not closed yet.

I’m not the only suspended journalist to have my account closed. Some journalists, such as Drew Harwell of the Washington Post, have written about being locked in on Mastodon. “Because for those wondering,” Harwell wrote, “I still can’t get on Twitter until I delete this tweet, which is actual journalism that doesn’t even violate the posting rule Twitter adopted a few days ago.” He attached a screenshot of the tweet.

And him? interview with CNNDonnie O’Sullivan, another suspended journalist, explained that his account was also blocked. “At this point, unless I agree to remove that tweet at the behest of a billionaire, I will not be allowed to tweet on the platform,” he said. He also filed an appeal.

It was Mashable’s Matt Binder unsuspended after a massive ban, but he wrote on Mastodon that when he wrote to a Twitter official to ask how he violated the company’s policy, he was blocked. “It seems they forgot to force me to delete the tweet the first time, as they did to other fired journalists,” he wrote.

Voice of America’s Steve Herman, whose account was also suspended last week, told CNN over the weekend: “When I got up this morning I saw a bunch of news that my account had been reinstated along with the others. Well, that’s not quite true.” Herrmann explained that Musk demanded that he delete three offensive tweets, all about @ElotJet.

The New York Times reported that the account of its suspended reporter Ryan Mack is also locked, depending on whether he chooses to delete posts that Twitter has flagged as violating its privacy policy.

Other reporters who were suspended for tweets related to @ElonJet are now fully reinstated, including Aaron Rupar and Tony Webster.

I personally have no plans to bow to Musk’s petty demands. We will see if something will change. In the meantime, you can follow me on Mastodon at @mi[email protected]and The Intercept at @[email protected].



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