Elon Musk said Twitter is reactivating the accounts of several journalists whose accounts were suspended after he accused them of violating the social media platform’s privacy rules.
Mr. Musk restored most of the accounts that were disabled Thursday after a majority of respondents in his informal Twitter poll voted for the bans to be lifted immediately.
On Thursday night, Twitter suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists investigating Mr. Musk’s ownership of the company, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac and The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell.
Some of the journalists had @ElonJet about Mr Musk’s previous suspension of an account that tracked the whereabouts of his private plane using publicly available flight data.
In a heated Twitter audio session with journalists on Thursday, Mr. Musk said linking to the @ElonJet account in those articles appeared to equate to posting intrusive real-time location information, or “doxxing.” Some of the people whose accounts were banned had also written articles exposing Mr. Musk’s management of Twitter.
Following the suspensions, Mr. Musk asked Twitter users when the accounts would be restored. Around 59 percent of the 3.7 million voters were in favor of users being reinstated immediately.
Mr. Musk confirmed those findings in a post around midnight Friday, saying, “People have spoken.”
By the early hours of Saturday morning, most accounts had been restored. But the @ElonJet account was still suspended, as was the account of Keith Olbermann, a former MSNBC and ESPN host, and Linette Lopez, a Business Insider columnist whose work on Mr. Zu Musk’s dealings in the recent years has included documenting suspected manufacturing problems at Tesla.
The suspensions had alarmed free speech advocates and prompted threats of sanctions from European regulators.
Jodie Ginsberg, president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said that if the suspensions were a form of retaliation for journalists’ work, “it would be a serious violation of journalists’ right to break the news without fear of reprisal.”
“News of arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying” tweeted Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission, added that the move violated European Union digital and media freedom laws. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”
Mr. Musk, who has repeatedly championed his commitment to free speech, firmly dismissed those criticisms, arguing that what he did was no different from actions taken by Twitter’s previous owners to restrict certain posts about Covid and presidential politics , which the platform viewed as misinformation.