One of the journalists suspended from Twitter by Elon Musk said the mercurial mogul kicked him off the social media site because he “poked the billionaire.”
CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan called out Musk’s move as a violation of free speech during an appearance on “CNN This Morning” on Friday.
“Coming from the guy who is the free speech absolutist, who says he wants this to be a beacon of free expression, it is quite something to see him banning journalists who all just happen to cover him critically. But I would also say fairly,” said O’Sullivan, who covers technology for the cable network.
On Thursday night, Musk suspended a group of reporters who had been critical of him since his $44 billion takeover of the social media platform. Those booted off the site included O’Sullivan, New York Times reporter Ryan Mac and Drew Harwell of the Washington Post, among others.
Some of the suspended accounts belonged to journalists who had recently covered – or tweeted about — the dispute between Musk and a Twitter account operated by Florida college sophomore Jack Sweeney called @ElonJet that tracks the tech mogul’s private jet flights.
Musk changed Twitter’s guidelines on location sharing this week and claimed the accounts were suspended for “doxxing” him, or posting private information about him on the site.
O’Sullivan said he fears Musk’s subjective content enforcement could “have a chilling effect” on freelance reporters around the world.
“I worry about the chilling effect that this might have on those reporters, particularly when you think that Musk also owns these other companies, Tesla and SpaceX,” O’Sullivan said. “What if you’re in Germany or elsewhere and you’re reporting on maybe poor working conditions? Is he going to come and just stamp down because he says, ‘Oh, that’s against the rules’?”
Twitter did not immediately return requests for comment.
Musk briefly tuned into a Twitter Spaces conference chat late Thursday, where he was bombarded with questions from some of the banned journalists.
He abruptly ended the interview when he was challenged by one of the reporters, who pointed out that what he described was not, in fact, “doxxing.”
Harwell denied sharing details about Musk’s real-time location, insisting he only reported on the suspension of the @ElonJet account.
“There is not special treatment for journalists,” a defiant Musk said.
“You dox, you get suspended, end of story,” he added, before abruptly leaving the chat.