Twitter Reinstates Some Accounts of Suspended Journalists

Ban was lifted following the results of a poll Elon Musk ran on the platform.

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By Ginger Adams Otis and and Alexa Corse from the Wall Street Journal.

Updated Dec. 17, 2022

Twitter Inc. is reinstating the accounts of several journalists who were suspended this week, according to a Saturday morning tweet from Elon Musk.

The new chief executive and owner of Twitter said he would lift the suspensions based on the results of a Twitter survey that asked users whether he should keep the accounts offline for a week or reinstate them immediately. More than 58% of respondents said the ban should be lifted right away.  Mr. Musk has previously attributed decisions he has taken to polls he serves up to his followers on Twitter, though it has been unclear to what extent they have influenced his decisions.

“Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter. Mr. Musk has previously complained about an account tracking his private jet using public data.

The social-media company Mr. Musk bought in October also conducted another round of layoffs Friday, according to a copy of an email that notified affected employees and was seen by The Wall Street Journal. Some laid-off engineers tweeted that their jobs had been cut. The full scope of the layoffs couldn’t immediately be determined.

Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment on the account reinstatements or layoffs. The layoffs were earlier reported by the Information.

Twitter, which had roughly 7500 employees at the start of this year, has made sweeping job cuts since Mr. Musk took over. The company last month laid off roughly half its staff, and hundreds or more employees resigned after Mr. Musk demanded they commit to being “extremely hardcore” or take a severance package.

Mr. Musk tweeted last month about the first round of layoffs: “Unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over USD 4 Million/day.” Twitter told employees last month that the reductions were intended to place the company on a healthy path.

The social-media platform has seen a battery of changes since Mr. Musk’s acquisition, some raising questions among advertisers, Twitter’s main source of revenue, about how the business is being run.

Mr. Musk on Thursday suspended accounts belonging to journalists from outlets including CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Mashable. At the time, he indicated the suspensions were linked to the sharing of data about the location of his private jet.

Representatives for the outlets said they didn’t receive any explanation of why the accounts were suspended.

The suspensions drew criticism from government officials and other groups who said Mr. Musk was infringing upon freedom of the press.

A day before the suspensions, Twitter changed its private information policy to prohibit sharing other people’s live locations in most instances.

“Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are ok,” Mr. Musk said Wednesday.

Twitter also suspended the @ElonJet account, operated by Jack Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida. The automated account tracked Mr. Musk’s private jet using public data from plane transponders that log longitude, latitude and altitude. As of Saturday morning, it was still suspended.

Other automated accounts run by Mr. Sweeney are also still blocked on Twitter, including @PutinJet, which tracked aircraft associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and @RUOligarchsJets, created after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, along with @CelebJets, an account that tracked the jets of celebrities.