December 22, 2022

Twitter Continues to Ban Supposedly-Reinstated Journalists

Elon Musk’s and Twitter’s Continuing Abuse of Authority Detailed

WASHINGTON—Government Accountability Project, on behalf of Voice of America’s Chief National Correspondent, Steve Herman, today wrote to the Senate and House Commerce Committees to detail the continuing suspensions of the Twitter accounts belonging to Mr. Herman’s and five other journalists.

The letter describes the irrational mistreatment of Mr. Herman – the absurd “reason” for his suspension and the subsequent demand that he excise tweets from his Twitter page as a condition for reinstatement. The letter asserts that Twitter and Elon Musk are acting arbitrarily and capriciously and therefore abusing their authority.

Mr. Herman is (or was) a frequent Twitter user. In a typical week, he posted hundreds of tweets reporting on current events. On December 14, Mr. Musk tweeted that anyone posting links to websites with real time location information would be suspended. On December 15, Mr. Herman posted three tweets containing links to @Elonject, the public social media site that uses public data obtained on public websites to report on the location and heading of Mr. Musk’s private jet. Minutes later, Mr. Herman’s account was permanently suspended. Other journalists were suspended for doing the same thing.

A firestorm of criticism ensued. On December 17, Mr. Musk tweeted that “the people have spoken” and that the suspensions would be “lifted now.” However, Mr. Herman’s Twitter account remains suspended. Twitter told him his suspension will be lifted only if he removes the three tweets with @Elonjet links. Mr. Herman has refused. He continues to be suspended.

The letter cites reporting that Twitter has demanded removal of tweets as a condition for from  at least five additional journalists:  Matt Binder of Mashable; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; Micah Lee of the Intercept; Ryan Mac of The New York Times; and Donie O’Sullivan of CNN.  All have apparently refused.

Twitter is now owned by Mr. Musk and, as a private corporation, is not subject to the same obligations as public entities.

Mr. Herman is represented by Government Accountability Project. Its letter to Congress is attached here. Its counsel David Z. Seide wrote:

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.

Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202.926.3304

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.