Twitter Pulls Spaces After Musk Run-In With Banned Journalists

Twitter has apparently pulled its Spaces group audio feature, at least temporarily, after Elon Musk joined a group conversation that included journalists that had been banned from the platform, TechCrunch reported.

This happened after Twitter suspended several prominent journalists who had covered an earlier story about the Elon Jet Twitter account that was banned for using publicly-available data to track Elon Musk’s jet.

According to TechCrunch, Twitter has a quirk that allows banned users to still participate in Twitter Spaces and converse with other members, and some of those who had been banned did just that. BuzzFeed reporter Katie Notopoulos started a group chat and was joined by a number of journalists whose accounts had suspended by Twitter, including the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and Mashable’s Matt Binder, as well as Jack Sweeney, creator of the Elon Jet Twitter account who had his own personal account suspended too.

TechCrunch also reported that (at the time of writing) it is not possible to start a new Spaces conversation or join an existing one, certainly based on the various tests TechCrunch has done internally. In response to one Twitter user wondering what was going on with Spaces, Musk replied that it was “fixing a legacy bug,” and that it should be working again tomorrow.

Buzzfeed News reported Elon Musk showed up briefly in a Twitter Space hosted by BuzzFeed News tech reporter Katie Notopoulos. Shortly after the journalists attempted to further question him about the suspensions, he fled the space.

According to Buzzfeed News, the reporters had been covering the story of Twitter banning @ElonJet, an account that tweeted the whereabouts of Musk’s personal private jet using publicly available data, and then suddenly found their own Twitter accounts suspended.

The Spaces was titled: “#saveryanmac #macpack” (after former BuzzFeed News and current New York Times reporter Ryan Mac, one of the suspended journalists). Mr. Musk showed up more than two hours after it started.

Business Insider reported that Elon Musk said, “Showing real-time information about somebody’s location is inappropriate,” while in the Twitter Space.

He also said “There is not going to be any distinction in the future between journalists and regular people. Everyone is going to be treated the same.”

“They’re not special because you’re a journalist,” the billionaire said, adding that they’re “just a Twitter citizen.”

Mr. Musk also said, “You dox, you get suspended, end of story.” He also warned in the Space that trying to be “clever” by posting a link to any real-time information was no different than providing the real-time information.

Business Insider reported that after two and a half minutes, Musk abruptly left the Space.

Personally, I think it is unprofessional for the CEO of Twitter to jump into a Spaces conversation for the purpose of antagonizing the reporters (and others) who were there. I cannot understand why he did that.

I also think that Mr. Musk doesn’t understand what doxxing means. In general, doxxing includes extremely personal information – social security numbers, home address, places of business – are typically what terrible people post online when they dox someone. Posting a photo of Elon Musk’s jet isn’t doxing.