Elon Musk popped in on journalists complaining about his decision to ban some of their brethren for allegedly doxxing him and his family, and told the reporters they “aren’t special.”
The journalists had convened in a Twitter Spaces chat after the Twitter boss had suspended the accounts of several high-profile reporters assigned to cover him. They had posted links to another account Musk suspended which tracks his private jet in real time, and Musk had become spooked after a harrowing incident involving his toddler son.
“I’m sure everyone who’s been doxxed would agree, showing real-time information about somebody’s location is inappropriate, and I think everyone on this call would not like that to be done to them, and there’s not going to be any distinction in the future between journalists and regular people,” Musk said after dropping in on the chat. “Everyone’s going to be treated the same. You’re not special because you’re a journalist, you’re just a Twitter [user] — you’re a citizen. So, no special treatment. You dox, you get suspended, end of story.”
Accounts that were suspended included former Vox journalist Aaron Rupar, CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan, New York Times reporter Ryan Mac, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell, The Intercept journalist Micah Lee, and hardcore leftist Keith Olbermann. It was not immediately clear if all had committed the same violation.
(1) As a person with 24/7 security to protect my family, I'm highly sympathetic to Musk's attempt to quash doxxing BUT
(2) Doxxing typically refers to giving people's real-time location, not speculating about publicly available flight information, as @esaagar points out.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 16, 2022
Earlier in the day, Musk had tweeted his reasoning for suspending the accounts.
“They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service,” Musk tweeted.
The Twitter Spaces chat that Musk crashed was hosted by BuzzFeed reporter Katie Notopoulos and Semafor chief Ben Smith. Speakers included former CNN host Brian Stelter, hard-left NBC reporter Ben Collins and Harwell, who challenged Musk.
“You’re suggesting that we were sharing your address, which is not true,” Harwell said.
“It is true,” Musk replied.
“I never posted your address,” Harwell answered, adding that he had reported on the banning of ElonJet, the site that tracks Musk’s jet but which was no longer on the platform.
Harwell accused Musk of hypocrisy after the billionaire had criticized the platform for censoring stories critical to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden prior to the 2020 election.
Musk said posting a link to real-time information that could put him, his family, or anyone else in danger is the same as posting the information directly.
“Ban evasion, trying to be clever about it, like ‘Oh, I posted a link to the real-time information,’ that is obviously simply trying to evade the meaning, that is no different from … actually showing real-time information.”
“You doxx, you get suspended, end of story, that’s it,” Musk said before leaving the chat.
Earlier this week, Musk said a stalker targeted a car carrying his young son in Los Angeles. He said the masked stalker blocked the car and then climbed up on its hood.
Anyone recognize this person or car? pic.twitter.com/2U0Eyx7iwl
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2022
Conservatives had voiced mixed opinions about Musk’s new round of suspensions, with some relishing seeing liberals kicked off the platform after years of Twitter only meting out such punishment to conservatives. However, other conservatives have expressed uneasiness about suspensions based on, at best, a gray area of Twitter’s terms of service.
“The old regime at Twitter governed by its own whims and biases and it sure looks like the new regime has the same problem,” tweeted Bari Weiss, an independent journalist who Musk enlisted to reveal old Twitter communications on the banning of conservatives. “I oppose it in both cases. And I think those journalists who were reporting on a story of public importance should be reinstated.”
Musk replied: “What should the consequence of doxxing someone’s real-time, exact location be? Assume your child is at that location, as mine was.”
Ryan Saavedra contributed to this report.