Congress urged to investigate Twitter journalist suspensions

This article features Government Accountability Project and was originally published here.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP), a nonprofit whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, Thursday urged two US Congressional Committees to continue reviewing Twitter’s suspension of several journalists’ accounts.

In a letter to the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, GAP states that they represent VOA Chief National Correspondent and current JURIST Journalist in Residence Steve Herman. Herman’s account was among those of several prominent journalists abruptly barred from the platform last week. When Twitter announced that the suspensions were lifted, Herman and at least five other journalists were informed that they would not regain access to their accounts unless they agreed to delete tweets referencing @Elonjet, a social media account that uses publicly available data to track the location of Elon Musk’s private jet.

While the letter concedes that Twitter is a private platform, “not subject to the same obligations as public entities,” it calls the treatment of Herman and other journalists “shocking.” “Plainly, Mr. Musk has abused his authority by acting arbitrarily and capriciously,” the letter states. “All of this is disturbing. For no rational reason, Twitter and Mr. Musk wrongly muzzled and continue to muzzle Voice of America’s reporter and at least five other journalists. We ask you to continue to review this mistreatment and, if you believe warranted, investigate further.”

In an exclusive interview with JURIST last week, Herman said, “If you begin to arbitrarily throttle mainstream and other journalists, it’s a restriction of free press – plain and simple.” JURIST has urged Twitter to “immediately reinstate Herman’s account and to implement robust and transparent policies safeguarding press freedom.” In solidarity with Herman and the other journalists banned by Twitter, JURIST has paused all Twitter operations since midnight last Friday.