Elon Musk polls users on reinstating suspended journalists, defends himself in Twitter Spaces chat

Musk told the journalists in the Twitter Spaces chat that 'you dox, you get suspended' before abruptly logging off

After several prominent media critics of Twitter owner Elon Musk were banned from the platform without explanation on Thursday, an explanation was eventually offered.

In a series of tweets, Musk said the journalists — including CNN correspondent Donie O'Sullivan, New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell, The Intercept journalist Micah Lee, Mashable writer Matt Binder, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and former Vox journalist Aaron Rupar — allegedly violated the platform’s new policy not to share location information.

Musk defended his decision to suspend the journalists and said they would remain off the platform for seven days.

The second installment of Elon Musk's so-called "Twitter Files" shed light on the company's practices of secretly "blacklisting" certain tweets.

The second installment of Elon Musk's so-called "Twitter Files" shed light on the company's practices of secretly "blacklisting" certain tweets. (Getty Images)

Hours later, Musk polled his 121.6 million followers on whether the journalists should be reinstated.

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"Unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time?" he asked with a poll of options, "Now, Tomorrow, Seven days from now, [or] longer."

Musk scrapped the poll after 43% said the accounts should be reinstated and 57% collectively said they should remain suspended.

He then launched a new poll with just two options: "Now" or "In seven days."

The "Now" option was ahead, 59% to 41%, with over 1.2 million votes.

Musk clarified the journalists were suspended for sharing his "real-time location" — a claim he repeatedly defended on Twitter.

"They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service," Musk wrote Thursday evening.

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Musk added: "If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!"

In another tweet, he said: "Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else."

"Accounts engaged in doxxing receive a temporary 7 day suspension," Musk continued.

And, "Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not."

Late Thursday evening, Musk further defended his actions during a Twitter Spaces conference chat hosted by journalist Katie Notopoulos of Buzzfeed. 

During the call, Musk was asked to respond to his decision to ban a "handful of journalists."

"Yeah, so I am sure that for everyone who has been doxxed would agree, sharing real-time information about someone's location is inappropriate and I think everyone on this call would not like that to be done to them," Musk answered.

"There's not going to be any distinction in the future between journalists or so-called journalists and regular people," he added. "Everyone's going to be treated the same."

"You're not special because you're a journalist, you are just a user of Twitter [and a] citizen," Musk reiterated. "So no special treatment. You dox, you get suspended. End of story."

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He also clarified that "ban evasion" — accessing the platform during a suspension or after a ban — or "being clever and posting a link to the real-time information is obviously simply trying to evade the meaning [of the rule]."

"There is no difference than actually sharing the real-time information," Musk said.

Notopoulos attempted to defend the journalists who were banned and said they were "reporting on" Musk's real-time flight location and shared the link as "pretty normal journalistic endeavors."

"Do you consider that as a tricky attempt at ban evasion?" she inquired. 

Musk echoed his previous statement: "If you share the link to the real-time information [it is] ban evasion, obviously."

Notopoulos then asked the Post’s Drew Harwell, who was banned from Twitter, if he posted the link to the real-time information.

"I do not think you were posting the link," she said, asking him to clarify.

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Harwell claimed Musk was wrongly inferring information.

"You are suggesting we are sharing your address, which is not true," he said to Musk, who countered.

"It's true," Musk quickly replied.

"I never shared your address," Harwell responded.

"You shared the link to the address," the Twitter chief fired back.

"In the course of reporting about ElonJet, we posted links to ElonJet," the Post's reporter admitted. 

Harwell then said Twitter disabled tweets of reporters who linked to any of ElonJet's accounts, on Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere "using the same exact link blocking technique" that Musk criticized Twitter's previous moderation team for using to suppress the New York Post's Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020.

"What is different from here and there?" the reporter inquired.

"It's simple for me," Musk answered. "It's no more acceptable for you as it is for me [to dox]."

"You dox, you get suspended, end of story, that's it," the Twitter executive concluded before he abruptly signed out. 

The journalists attempted to ask more follow-up questions before discovering Musk had left the conversation.

The Spaces call then ended. 

"Sorry it appears the Space cut out, screen went suddenly blank on my end and everyone got booted," Notopoulos tweeted.

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Musk, who has described himself as being a free-speech absolutist, has been met with backlash from his critics for the suspensions, the subsequent tweets, and the Spaces call.

Many continue to demand he reinstate the accounts.

This story is developing and will be updated.