Twitter followers of several journalists, among them VOA’s Chief National Correspondent Steve Herman – who has a following of over 100 thousand users - late Thursday encountered a blank profile with an additional message that read “Account suspended.”
The suspended journalists all report that it is presently unclear as to why their accounts were suspended, however share a common link of writing articles and posting about Elon Musk, the sites new owner.
Herman last reported about Twitter for VOA in September, however late Thursday was among a group of journalists who were tweeting about a case linked to @elonjet, an account which tracked Musk’s private jet in real time.
“I had been tweeting quite a bit on Thursday evening about this building drama which started with the suspension of a so-called bot account that tweets the location of Elon Musk’s private jet,” said Herman.
Nigel Gibbs, VOA’s spokesperson confirmed that it is presently unclear why Herman’s account was suspended.
“Mr. Herman is a seasoned reporter who upholds the highest journalistic standards and uses the social media platform as a news gathering and networking tool,” said Gibbs.
“Mr. Herman has received no information from Twitter as to why his account was suspended,” added Gibbs.
In response to tweets posted by some journalists late Thursday, Musk tweeted, “criticizing me all day long is totally fine but doxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”
“Same doxxing rules apply to journalists as to everyone else,” added Musk as he referred to Twitter rules that ban the sharing of personal information.
Media platform CNN released a newsletter which reported that some of their journalists were banned from the site late Thursday and were reporting on the incident, however none of the suspended journalists shared Musk’s location information or any content that could be described as doxxing.
The media platform further described the suspensions as “impulsive and unjustified,” and called on Twitter to provide an explanation while threatening to reevaluate their relationship based on the provided response.
Attempts by VOA to receive a comment from the media contact listed on Twitter’s website were futile and returned with a message that read “delivery failure.”
Speaking to reporters from Reuters, Ella Iwin, Twitter’s new head of trust and safety said the social media site is relying heavily on automation to moderate content, instead of resorting to manual reviews.
This report originates from VOA's Jessica Jerreat and includes information from Reuters.