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Monday, February 6, 2023
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    Musk restores journalists’ Twitter accounts after suspensions draw backlash

    CNA – 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 organisations from several parts of the globe on Friday, with some saying the microblogging platform was jeopardising 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 yesterday 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.

    Elon Musk. PHOTO: CNA

    Officials from France, Germany, Britain and the European Union earlier condemned the suspensions.The episode, which one well-known security researcher labelled 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.

    Shares in Tesla, an electric car maker led by Musk, slumped 4.7 per cent 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.The French minister of industry Roland Lescure tweeted on Friday that following Musk’s suspension of journalists, he would suspend his own activity on Twitter.

    Head of communications for the United Nations Melissa Fleming tweeted she was “deeply disturbed” by the suspensions and that “media freedom is not a toy”.

    The German Foreign Office warned Twitter that the ministry had a problem with moves that jeopardised press freedom.

    The suspensions stemmed from a disagreement over a Twitter account called ElonJet, which tracked Musk’s private plane using publicly available information.

    On Wednesday, Twitter suspended the account and others that tracked private jets, despite Musk’s previous tweet saying he would not suspend ElonJet in the name of free speech.

    Then on Thursday evening, several journalists, including from the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post, were suspended from Twitter with no notice.

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