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Twitter Suspends Accounts of Keith Olbermann, Aaron Rupar and More Journalists Who Cover Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks up as he addresses guests at the Offshore Northern Seas 2022 (ONS) meeting in Stavanger, Norway on August 29, 2022. - The meeting, held in Stavanger from August 29 to September 1, 2022, presents the latest developments in Norway and internationally related to the energy, oil and gas sector. - Norway OUT (Photo by Carina Johansen / NTB / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo by CARINA JOHANSEN/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)
NTB/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists who cover Elon Musk on Thursday night, including Keith Olbermann and Aaron Rupar.

The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, Mashable’s Matt Binder, the Intercept’s Micah Lee and Tony Webster have also been suspended, according to NBC News.

The Washington Post reported that many of the journalists had written about Musk banning the @ElonJet account on Wednesday that tracked the movements of his private jet and had also been critical of Musk on Twitter. Some of the journalists had tweeted a link to the tracking account on Twitter rival Mastodon Social.

Musk, posting on Twitter, claimed journalists who were banned had violated the company’s newly instituted rule prohibiting the sharing of information about someone else’s real-time location. “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” the multibillionaire tweeted Thursday. “They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.” The banned accounts do not appear to have directly posted Musk’s “exact real-time location” but several linked to the @ElonJet account, whose data is obtained through publicly available sources. Meanwhile, Rupar told CNN that he had not posted “anything @ElonJet related” to Twitter.

Olbermann confirmed to Variety that he was first suspended — then permanently suspended — from Twitter and shared that his last tweets were in support of other banned journalists. Olbermann said he will address the suspension on his “Countdown” podcast soon.

“Elon says he is a free speech champion and he is banning journalists for exercising free speech. I think that calls into question his commitment,” Harwell told CNN in a statement after his suspension from the platform.

“The impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”

Also on Thursday, Mastodon’s account was suspended from Twitter. Earlier in the day, Mastodon had tweeted a link to the private jet tracker’s account on its own platform.

The jet-tracking bot was created by Florida college student Jack Sweeney, whose own personal Twitter account has also been suspended. Musk tweeted on Wednesday, “Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates [Twitter’s] doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are OK.” The tech mogul’s change of heart about the @ElonJet account — he previously had said his “commitment to free speech” extended to allowing the account to remain on Twitter — came after Musk claimed that a “crazy stalker” in L.A. on Tuesday had blocked a car in which his 2-year-old son was a passenger and “climbed onto [the] hood.”

Twitter’s Private and Information and Media Policy was updated Wednesday to include the following: “If your account is dedicated to sharing someone’s live location, your account will be automatically suspended.” In addition, the page outlining the policy now says that content prohibited on the service includes “live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to 3rd-party URL(s) of travel routes, actual physical location, or other identifying information that would reveal a person’s location, regardless if this information is publicly available.”

Todd Spangler contributed to this report.