Twitter suspends accounts of Mastodon and several journalists

16 Dec 2022

Elon Musk at the SpaceX headquarters in October 2019. Image: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Twitter accounts that track private planes have been suspended, along with the accounts of Mastodon and a host of tech reporters.

Several prominent journalists on Twitter have had their accounts suspended because they “violated the Twitter rules”.

Many of the affected journalists have covered Twitter and its new owner Elon Musk, including Irish CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan, Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept and independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster.

The official Twitter account of Mastodon, which many regard as an alternative to Twitter, has also been suspended and links to its servers are being blocked on the platform.

Earlier this week, Twitter suspended more than two dozen accounts that tracked planes of government agencies, billionaires and other individuals in the public realm.

The list of accounts suspended includes one by 20-year-old college student Jack Sweeney, who used publicly available data to track Musk’s travels in his private plane.

While Musk had earlier defended the @ElonJet account and decided against its suspension on the grounds of free speech, the recent moves on Twitter mark a sharp U-turn from that commitment.

“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 tweeted last month.

While Twitter did not give a clear reason for the sudden journalist account suspensions, other than for “violating” platform rules, The New York Times reports that some of them had either written or tweeted about accounts that tracked private planes.

Musk said in a recent tweet that “any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended” as it is a “physical safety violation”.

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Elon Musk at the SpaceX headquarters in October 2019. Image: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic