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Twitter reinstates accounts of some suspended journalists and Mastodon

The website said 'permanent suspension was a disproportionate action' for breaking some of its policies.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Twitter has announced through its Safety account that it has "identified several policies where permanent suspension was a disproportionate action for breaking Twitter rules." The website has already started reinstating accounts that were suspended for violating those rules, the tweet continued, and it will lift more suspensions every week over the next month. Twitter didn't specify the policies it's talking about and which accounts will be reinstated. But upon checking, the accounts of Mastodon and the journalists recently banned due to the website's new doxxing rules are up and running again.

To understand what happened, we have to go back a few days. The website banned several accounts over the past week, starting with @ElonJet, the account that tracked flights of Elon Musk's private jet using publicly available data. Other accounts that also tracked the planes of government agencies and high-profile individuals were banned, as well.

On his account, Musk announced that any account "doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended." In a follow-up tweet, he said that a car carrying his child was "followed by crazy stalker" and that he was taking legal action against Jack Sweeney, the college student who ran @ElonJet, and "organizations who supported harm to [his] family." As of this writing, the @ElonJet account is still suspended.

Shortly after that, Twitter also suspended the account of its rival social network Mastodon when it tweeted a link to the account tracking Musk's jet on its own service. It's worth noting that Twitter seems to have started flagging posts containing the word "Mastodon" as "sensitive content" days before this happened. Users also found themselves unable to post links to Mastodon servers.

In addition to Mastodon, Twitter suspended the accounts of several journalists who report on Elon Musk and the social network itself. Most of them talked about Sweeney or linked to @ElonJet in some way, and based on Musk's responses to questions about the event, the journalists were suspended due to Twitter's new doxxing rules. One of the banned journalists, The Washington Post's Drew Harwell, posted a screenshot of the tweet that the website had flagged for doxxing: It was a report about Mastodon's suspension for tweeting a link to it service's own @ElonJet account.

Following the journalists' suspensions, Musk posted a poll asking people whether he should reinstate the accounts of users who doxxed his exact location in real time "now" or "in 7 days." The "now" option won, and Musk promised that those accounts will be restored. So far, Twitter has reinstated Harwell's account, along with the accounts of The New York Times' Ryan Mac, Mashable's Matt Binder, The Intercept's Micah Lee and CNN's Donie O'Sullivan. Keith Olbermann's account is still suspended, and it's unclear if Twitter will lift @ElonJet's suspension in the coming days.