Elon Musk bans journalists from Twitter over "assassination coordinates"

San Francisco, California - So much for free speech – several high-profile journalists who cover Elon Musk were suspended from Twitter on Thursday night as the billionaire used safety as an excuse to lash out and silence critics, whether real or perceived.

Aaron Rupar and other journalists covering Elon Musk had their Twitter accounts suspended on Thursday.
Aaron Rupar and other journalists covering Elon Musk had their Twitter accounts suspended on Thursday.  © Collage: Screenshot/Jon Levine/Twitter & Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

Among those whose accounts were suspended are Ryan Mac from The New York Times, Donie O'Sullivan from CNN, Matt Binder from Mashable, Drew Harwell from The Washington Post, political pundit Keith Olbermann and Steve Herman from the government-funded Voice of America.

Harwell’s last post before being suspended was about Twitter removing the account of one of its competitors, Mastodon, for posting a link to its own version of the banned @ElonJet account that tracked Musk’s plane, according to a tweet from NBC News reporter Ben Collins.

Olbermann’s last tweet asked people to re-create word for word Harwell’s post and link to an article by independent journalist Aaron Rupar, whose account was also suspended, that criticized Musk for his "populist cosplay" while being one of the richest men in the world.

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Mac tweeted from a newly created account that he was given no warning or explanation about his suspension.

"I report on Twitter, Elon Musk and his companies. And I will continue to do so," he tweeted. Collins confirmed in a tweet that the new account, @MacSilenced, was the real Mac.

Musk baselessly claims journalists tweeted "assassination coordinates"

Elon Musk has been banning Twitter accounts critical of him.
Elon Musk has been banning Twitter accounts critical of him.  © REUTERS

The nine or more accounts banned Thursday night are not the first to be taken down after tweeting about Musk.

The @ElonJet account was previously suspended, briefly reinstated, and removed again despite Musk's previous promise to leave the account alone.

"My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk," Musk said in a November 6 tweet.

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The increasingly erratic chief executive is now claiming that the banned journalists had doxxed him by making reference to the flight-tracking account. "They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service," the Tesla CEO tweeted, while also participating in a live spaces event in which he repeated the baseless accusation.

Musk, a self-described free-speech absolutist, vowed to make sweeping changes to the social media platform once he finalized his control over the company. He was critical of Twitter's ban on certain kinds of speech and questioned whether those rules undermined democracy.

Last month, Twitter reinstated the account of former President Donald Trump, who was suspended in January 2021 for his role in inciting a violent riot at the US Capitol. Canadian podcaster Jordan Peterson and far-right Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene were also reactivated, along with

Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/Jon Levine/Twitter & Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

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