Twitter on Thursday suspended the accounts of journalists covering the social media platform and its new owner, Elon Musk, including reporters working for The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and other publications.
The company has not explained why it removed the accounts and made their previous profiles and tweets disappear.
The sudden suspension of news reporters followed Musk’s decision on Wednesday to permanently ban an account that automatically tracked his private jet flights using publicly available data.
Twitter also changed its rules on Wednesday to prohibit sharing another person’s current location without their consent.
Several of the reporters suspended Thursday night had been writing about that new policy and Musk’s rationale for imposing it, which involved his allegations about a bullying incident that affected his family Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
“Same doxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as everyone else,” Musk tweeted on Thursday. He later added: “Criticizing me all day is fine, but cheating on my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”
“Doxxing” refers to the online disclosure of someone’s identity, address, or other personal information.
CNN said in a statement that “the impulsive and unwarranted suspension of several reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising.”
“Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be an incredible concern to everyone who uses Twitter,” CNN’s statement added. “We have asked Twitter for an explanation and will re-evaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Another suspended journalist, Matt Binder of the technology news outlet Mashable, said he was suspended Thursday night immediately after sharing a screenshot that O’Sullivan had posted before the CNN reporter’s suspension.
The screenshot showed a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department sent early Thursday to various news outlets, including The Associated Press, about how they contacted Musk’s representatives about the alleged harassment incident, but that they still no criminal report had been filed.
“I did not share any location data, per Twitter’s new terms. I also did not share any links to ElonJet or other location tracking accounts,” Binder said in an email. “I have been very critical of Musk, but I have never broken any of the policies listed on Twitter.”
The suspensions come as Musk makes major changes to content moderation on Twitter. He has attempted, through the publication of selected company documents dubbed “The Twitter Files,” to claim that the platform suppressed right-wing voices. He had promised to let freedom of expression reign, but indicated that he would take steps not to amplify misinformation.