Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, has offered several journalists he banned from the social media site earlier this week the ability to return to the platform if they delete tweets that he falsely claimed posted his “accurate, real-time” location.
The move came from Musk after he posted an unscientific poll on his personal Twitter account that concluded Friday evening in which 59% of respondents voted in favor of immediate account recovery.
Musk was banned on Thursday CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, Ryan Mack of The New York Times and Drew Harwell of The Washington Post. Progressive freelance journalist Aaron Robar, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, and Insider columnist Lynette Lopez have also been banned.
“People have spoken,” Musk wrote Friday night after his ballot, vowing to bring back the accounts he falsely accused of sharing his location “in real time.”
But while the accounts became publicly available on Saturday, the journalists were blocked from posting until they removed the tweets, which Musk claimed violated the Twitter Rules.
In the past, Twitter has required users to remove offending tweets to regain access to their accounts, but journalists in this case strongly suspect their posts violate Twitter’s rules.
Both O’Sullivan and Harwell told CNN on Saturday morning that they had not agreed to delete the tweets and had instead outlined an option to appeal the decision.
“It’s journalism,” Harwell wrote in his appeal, a copy of which was provided to CNN. Harwell added that his tweet did not include “a link to anyone’s private information.”
Robar told CNN that he ultimately decided to simply remove the tweet and move on from the episode, though he described the whole affair as “kinda.” [sic] It’s obviously silly.”
It wasn’t clear what Mac chose to do.
Notably Olbermann and Lopez’s accounts remained banned and were not made public until late Saturday morning.
Musk had falsely claimed on Thursday that journalists violated Twitter’s new “doxxing” policy by sharing his “accurate, real-time” location, which amounted to what he described as “assassination coordinates.”
The journalists’ comment was swiftly condemned by news organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, the United Nations, Democratic members of Congress and others.
The move marked an important attempt by Musk, who describes himself as a tyrant of free speech, to wield his unilateral power on the platform to censor the press.
A CNN spokesperson previously said Thursday that the network had asked Twitter for clarification regarding O’Sullivan’s comment and that it would “reassess our relationship based on this response.”
Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan tweeted that Twitter had suspended the account of the emerging competitive social media service, Mastodon, which had allowed ElonJet, an account posting the updated location of Musk’s private jet, to continue.
Other reporters suspended Thursday also wrote about the plane-tracking account, which Twitter permanently suspended the day before as it rolled out a new policy prohibiting sharing of live location data.
The move to ban the plane-tracking account was a sharp reversal in Musk’s vow to leave the account online as part of his “commitment to freedom of speech.”
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