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Amid backlash and accusations of violating press freedom, Twitter has reinstated the accounts of several journalists that were suspended earlier this week.
On Thursday night, the social media platform suspended several journalists who tweeted or wrote about the company’s owner, Elon Musk.
Dark accounts included CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan; Ryan Mack The New York Times; Drew Harwell The Washington Post; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and journalist Aharon Rupar.
On Friday evening, Musk put the decision to restore the suspended accounts to a public vote. He on Twitter an informal poll that asked Twitter users to choose when to “suspend accounts that illegally exposed my exact location in real time.”
According to the poll, 58.7% of voters favored lifting the suspensions immediately, compared to 41.3% who said Musk should wait another seven days.
Rupar, whose account was reinstated on Friday, said the suspensions signaled Twitter’s instability.
“It’s a clear indication that it’s no longer a rules-based company,” Rupar told NPR. “It’s basically a company based on the whims of Elon Musk, and the terms of service depend on his mood from day to day.”
Joan Donovan, research director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy, believes this week’s suspensions are just the beginning.
“With Musk targeting certain mainstream journalists, I think we’re going to see more of these shenanigans over the next few months, not less,” he told NPR’s Michelle Martin. All things considered.
NPR reached out to Twitter and Musk, but did not hear back.
It all started with a reactive Twitter follower
Before the journalists’ accounts were suspended, Musk disputed several accounts that tracked the movements of private jets used by billionaires, government officials and others.
Musk was particularly concerned about the aircraft tracking account, an @ElonJet piloted by a 20-year-old student at the University of Central Florida, which Musk claims was used to “crazy detectivein Los Angeles to follow one of Musk’s children.
Journalists who tweeted or wrote about the breakup with Musk’s account were subsequently suspended.
Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” has denied allegations that the suspensions were in response to critical coverage. Instead, he argued that the accounts were a “breach of physical security” and could lead to “doxxing,” or the sharing of personal information, to encourage harassers.
“Criticizing me all day is perfectly fine, but doxing my location in real time and putting my family at risk is not,” Musk. on Twitter Thursday night.
Musk’s crackdown has been condemned by the United Nations and the EU
A number of world organizations have criticized Musk’s apparent silencing of high-ranking journalists in his tweets.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming said she was “deeply disturbed” by the suspensions.
“Media freedom is not a toy. A free press is a cornerstone of democratic societies and a key tool in combating harmful misinformation,” Fleming. on Twitter on Friday.
The Vice President of the European Commission, Vera Jourova, warned Twitter about possible violations of the Digital Services and Media Freedom Act.
“There are red lines. And sanctions soon,” Jourova on Twitter Friday.
The suspensions have also angered several news organizations, which are demanding explanations as to why their reporters were temporarily banned.
“Twitter’s increasing volatility and instability should be incredibly concerning to everyone who uses the platform,” CNN said in a statement. statement Thursday. “We will reassess our relationship based on that response.”
For Rupar, while he was initially worried that Twitter’s ban would negatively affect his career, it turned out to be quite the opposite.
“For me, the results have been pretty positive overall,” he said.
In the hours following his suspension, Rupar said he received an outpouring of support and a large following on his newly created Mastodon account, which he plans to use more often.
“Although I’m back on Twitter, in light of this experience, it seems like a good time to spend more energy building a following elsewhere,” Rupar said.