New Twitter owner Elon Musk offered several of the journalists he banned from the social media site earlier this week a chance to return to the platform if they delete the tweets he falsely claimed were his ” accurate real-time location.
Musk’s move came after he posted an unscientific poll on his personal Twitter account that ended Friday night with 59% of participants voting for the accounts to be restored immediately.
Musk on Thursday banned CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac and The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell. Independent progressive journalist Aaron Rupar, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and Insider columnist Linette Lopez were also banned.
“People have spoken,” Musk wrote Friday night after his poll, promising to restore the accounts he falsely accused of revealing his “real-time, accurate” location.
But while the accounts were made publicly viewable on Saturday, the journalists were not allowed to post until they removed the tweets, which Musk had claimed violated Twitter’s rules.
In the past, Twitter has required the removal of offending tweets to allow users to regain access to their accounts, but in this case the journalists firmly denied that their posts violated Twitter Rules.
O’Sullivan and Harwell told CNN Saturday morning that they did not agree to the deletion of the tweets and instead chose an option to appeal the decision.
“It’s journalism,” Harwell wrote in his appeal, a copy of which was provided to CNN. Harwell added that his tweet did not contain a “link to anyone’s private information.”
Rupar told CNN that he ultimately decided to just remove the tweet and move on with the episode, despite describing the whole affair as “kind of [sic] obviously absurd.”
It wasn’t clear what Mac had chosen.
Notably, Olbermann and Lopez’s accounts remained suspended and had not even been made publicly available as of late Saturday morning.
Musk on Thursday falsely claimed the journalists had violated Twitter’s new “doxxing” policy by sharing his “exact real-time” location, which amounts to what he described as “assassination coordinates.”
The journalists’ suspension drew immediate condemnation from news organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, the United Nations, Democratic congressmen and others.
The move was a significant attempt by Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, to exercise his unilateral authority over the platform to censor the press.
A CNN spokesman said earlier Thursday that the network had asked Twitter for an explanation of O’Sullivan’s suspension and would “reevaluate our relationship based on that response.”
Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan tweeted that Twitter had suspended the account of an up-and-coming competitive social media service, Mastodon, which has allowed the continued posting of @ElonJet, an account that posts the updated location of Musk’s private jet.
Other reporters who were suspended on Thursday had also recently written about the plane-tracking account, which Twitter permanently banned the day before as it rolled out a new policy banning the sharing of live location data.
The move to ban the jet-tracking account marked a sharp reversal of Musk’s vow to keep the account online as part of his “commitment to free speech.”