Elon Musk taketh away, and Elon Musk giveth.
Late Friday night, the mercurial mega-billionaire unilaterally announced that he was unbanning journalists whose accounts had been suspended a day before — which Musk claimed had “doxxed” him by posting links to an account that tracks his private jet.
“The people have spoken,” Musk tweeted just after midnight ET. “Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now.” Musk was referring to a poll he posted about when to reinstate the accounts he’d blocked. After nearly 3.7 million votes, 59% of the votes were in favor of lifting the bans “now” while the rest voted for “in 7 days.” Musk similarly had decided to reinstate Donald Trump’s account last month based on a straw poll, after claiming he was forming a council with “diverse viewpoints” to weigh in on such questions.
As of Friday night, accounts that had been restored included those of independent journalist Aaron Rupar (@atrupar), the New York Times’ Ryan Mac (@RMac18), the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell (@drewharwell), CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan (@donie), Mashable’s Matt Binder (@MattBinder), the Intercept’s Micah Lee (@micahflee) and Tony Webster (@webster).
The move by Musk — who claims he’s a “free speech absolutist” — to suspend the accounts of the high-profile journalists came after he banned the @ElonJet account and other plane-tracking bots on Wednesday, citing the need to ensure the safety of his family. Also Wednesday, Twitter issued a brand-new rule prohibiting accounts from sharing the real-time location of individuals, even if the data information is otherwise publicly available. Several of the accounts that were suspended had tweeted about the jet-tracker and linked to its new account on rival social network Mastodon.
Twitter also Friday night reinstated the account of Mastodon (@joinmastodon), which had tweeted a link to the ElonJet account on its own service. Still suspended at press time was the account of Keith Olbermann.
Rupar, after his account was reinstated, tweeted, “I want to thank everyone for all the support and kind words over the past day and some change. I was pretty bummed about getting suspended initially but quickly realized it’d be fine because I’m blessed to have an amazing online community. Seriously, I appreciate it a lot. Cheers.” Rupar previously had told CNN that he had not posted anything on Twitter about @ElonJet.
Rupar has been critical of Musk in his tweets and reporting. For example, on Dec. 15, he tweeted, “can’t wait for Twitter to ban Elon Musk for violating the policy the company just announced hours ago,” quote-tweeting a video clip Musk had posted of a masked person in a car that revealed its license plate and asking, “Anyone recognize this person or car?” Earlier, Musk had said in a tweet that a car in which his 2-year-old son was riding on Tuesday evening in L.A. “was followed by [a] crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood.”
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