On Thursday evening, Twitter suspended a number of prominent journalists on the platform without warning or explanation.
The situation followed the company’s decision to suspend the Twitter account of Mastodon, an open source social media alternative that’s built momentum since Elon Musk took over at the company. Twitter took action against Mastodon after the account linked to the Mastodon page of @ElonJet, a student-made bot that tracks the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet.
It’s not immediately clear if the two situations are connected, but at least some of the accounts suspended had shared screenshots and observations about Mastodon’s suspension. Just prior to his suspension, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell tweeted about Mastodon being kicked off the platform.
Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, Mashable’s Matt Binder, and journalist Aaron Rupar were also suspended Thursday evening. Many of the reporters regularly covered Musk’s takeover of Twitter in recent months.
While we don’t know what’s going on here yet, it’s possible that the suspensions are the result of automated content moderation gone awry. Some of the suspended accounts shared Mastodon and ElonJet’s Twitter handles as well as images of the tweet that appears to have gotten the former account suspended.
In light of Twitter’s reduced human moderation teams, it’s possible that automated systems enforcing Twitter’s brand new rules against accounts like @ElonJet were overzealous in this instance. But it’s at least as likely that this is a case of Musk directing the moderation process based on his own preferences — we just won’t know until someone at Twitter explains what’s going on.
TechCrunch tweeted at Twitter’s new head of trust and safety for comment on the situation and will update this story if we hear back.
This story is developing…