Twitter CEO Elon Musk has reinstated journalists' accounts that were earlier suspended for allegedly doxxing his location in real-time, with the temporary suspensions earning the Wikipedia moniker "Thursday Night Massacre" and fueling questions over press freedom on the platform.
After the platform updated its policy prohibiting sharing people's location in real-time—known as doxxing—due to personal safety risks, nine journalists' accounts were suspended, according to an Epoch Times tally. As of press time, eight of those have been reactivated.
The majority of respondents voted for an immediate reinstatement of the suspended accounts.
"The people have spoken," Musk said. "Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now."
The accounts that were suspended belonged to CNN’s politics and tech correspondent Donie O’Sullivan (@donie), New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac (@rmac18), Washington Post technology reporter Drew Harwell (@drewharwell), Mashable tech reporter Matt Binder (@mattbinder), The Intercept tech reporter Micah Lee (@micahflee), Voice of America's Chief National Correspondent Steve Herman (@w7voa), journalist Aaron Rupar (@atrupar), and sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann (@Keitholbermann).
As of the time of reporting, the only account that remained blocked was Olbermann's.
'Thursday Night Massacre'Twitter's suspension of the accounts came after Musk unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Twitter account @ElonJet to stop sharing private jet movements in real time—which he repeatedly said posed a risk to his safety—and after what he described as a "crazy stalker" climbed onto a car carrying his 2-year-old son.
The doxxing policy states that any account sharing real-time location information of private individuals (with the exception of the user themselves) would receive a temporary suspension of unspecified duration. The second time they do so, their account will be permanently suspended.
Some of the journalists disputed Musk's claim that they had doxxed his location.
Rupar also noted that prior to his suspension, he had posted a tweet regarding the @ElonJet account that was suspended from Twitter, which he said was "still active on Facebook, with a link to the Facebook page."
"Perhaps that did it, but I still don’t know what policy that could’ve possibly violated," he wrote.
Most of the journalists had talked about the owner of the suspended @ElonJet account, Jack Sweeney, or linked to the jet-tracking account in some way.
Musk also announced that he would be taking “legal action” against Sweeney.
'Basically Assassination Coordinates'Some critics framed the suspensions as an attempt on Musk's part to muzzle journalists who have been critical of him, although he insisted otherwise: "Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not."
The suspensions drew backlash from government officials, advocacy groups, and journalism organizations from across the globe, with some claiming Twitter was jeopardizing press freedom.
“This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that," Jourova wrote. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon."
Jourova didn't elaborate on what sanctions she had in mind, though under the EU's Digital Services Acted that she cited, companies can be fined 6 percent of their global annual revenues for breaches.
'Paparazzi, Stalkers, & Fans'Hours before Musk threatened to take legal action against Sweeney, he responded to Jim Hall, a self-described Tesla and SpaceX enthusiast and investor, who argued that Sweeney had made it easier for "nutjobs" to find Musk and his family.
"The more the hate being drummed up online against Elon grows the larger the threat to Elon & his family grows. Imagine all the crazies at the extreme of both political sides targeting you nonstop," Hall wrote.
The contextual note added, however, that "Twitter's TOS prohibits sharing 'information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless if this information is publicly available.'"
While Sweeney's @ElonJet account has been suspended, he continues to track Musk's jet on other platforms, including Facebook.
Sweeney expressed disappointment that his jet-tracking account on Twitter had been suspended.
Sweeney refused and asked for $50,000 or an internship opportunity at one of Musk's companies, but the Twitter chief didn't take him up on the offer.