Elon Musk restores Twitter accounts of journalists but concerns persist

By Reuters   December 17, 2022 | 06:09 pm PT
Elon Musk restores Twitter accounts of journalists but concerns persist
A view of the Twitter logo at its corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S. November 18, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Carlos Barria/File Photo
Elon Musk reinstated the Twitter accounts of several journalists that were suspended for a day over a controversy on publishing public data about the billionaire's plane.

The reinstatements came after the unprecedented suspensions evoked stinging criticism from government officials, advocacy groups and journalism organizations from several parts of the globe on Friday, with some saying the microblogging platform was jeopardizing press freedom.

A Twitter poll that Musk conducted later also showed that a majority of the respondents wanted the accounts restored immediately.

"The people have spoken. Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now," Musk said in a tweet on Saturday.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. A Reuters check showed the suspended accounts, which included journalists from the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post, have been reinstated.

The U.N. human rights chief welcomed the reinstatements, but said he continued to have concerns.

"Twitter has a responsibility to respect human rights: @elonmusk should commit to making decision based on publicly-available policies that respect rights, including free speech. Nothing less," Volker Turk, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, wrote.

Donie O'Sullivan, a CNN reporter who had been among the journalists who were suspended and then reinstated, said he still could not tweet because the platform was demanding his removal of one of his posts. He said he would appeal.

Officials from France, Germany, Britain and the European Union had earlier condemned the suspensions.

The episode, which one well-known security researcher labeled the "Thursday Night Massacre", is being regarded by critics as fresh evidence of Musk, who considers himself a "free speech absolutist," eliminating speech and users he personally dislikes.

It also occurred amid an exodus of advertisers and as the company has slashed jobs. Sources familiar with the matter said there had been layoffs in Twitter's engineering departments this weekend. The employees affected worked for the part of the company that kept the social media platform running and were told via email on Friday evening, The Information reported.

Shares in Tesla, an electric car maker led by Musk, slumped 4.7% on Friday and posted their worst weekly loss since March 2020, with investors increasingly concerned about his being distracted and about the slowing global economy.

Roland Lescure, the French minister of industry, tweeted on Friday that, following Musk's suspension of journalists, he would suspend his own activity on Twitter.

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