Journalists are fuming after Twitter CEO Elon Musk suspended several accounts Thursday evening over the ‘doxxing’ of his personal location. He called it a personal safety issue after the car his son was in was accosted by a “crazy stalker.”
Suspensions hit Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, Ryan Mac of the New York Times, former MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, and others.
Musk declared that “any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended,” calling it a “physical safety violation.” He added that posting the information on a delayed basis is not a threat and is permissible.
“Doxxing” is the intentional act of disclosing personal information about an individual that may threaten their safety.
Critics slammed the CEO for targeting those reporting on the account tracking his personal flights. Musk previously said he would allow the account to remain on Twitter, but that was before the attack on the vehicle carrying his son.
As criticism poured onto the billionaire entrepreneur, Musk wrote that the “same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else.”
BREAKING: Elon Musk joins Twitter space with woke journalists, informs them they’re not special—doxxing rules apply to themhttps://t.co/R0hAg8pM1E
— Pillow Time Poso🎅🏻🎄 (@JackPosobiec) December 16, 2022
He followed that tweet with a further explanation, saying the offenders published his “exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates.”
This, Musk said, violated the social media platform’s terms of service. The offending journalists will remain off Twitter for seven days.
Musk defended his action, which drew sharp criticism, by noting that if a person posted real-time locations and addresses of New York Times reporters, the “FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill,” and the president would declare a threat to democracy.
He also countered critics by saying that “criticizing me all day long is totally fine.” Endangering his family with real-time location postings, however, is not.
Despite Musk’s very specific reasons for suspending accounts, many harshly demanded that they be reinstated immediately. Some accused the CEO of targeting those who criticized him personally despite his repeated denials of the charge.
In the aftermath of the well-publicized attack on the vehicle carrying his son, it is understandable that Musk wanted to protect himself and his family from malicious doxxing. Critics would do well to put themselves in the same situation and consider their own responses.