Elon Musk’s war on journalists marched on this weekend with Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz getting temporarily booted from Twitter after she asked the erratic billionaire for comment on a story.
“When I went to log in and see if he had responded to our query, I was suspended. I received zero communication from the company on why I was suspended or what terms I violated,” Lorenz wrote on her Substack.
Musk said on Sunday morning that Lorenz was suspended for “prior doxxing action by this account” and that it would be lifted “shortly.”
But when Lorenz appealed her suspension, she got a reply from Twitter that said her account had been “permanently suspended” and that she should not bother responding because “this decision will not be reversed.”
A few hours later, Lorenz’s Twitter account was restored.
The suspension came just a couple of days after Musk axed and then reinstated the accounts of several other prominent journalists who had made reference to the account @elonjet, run by a college kid who tracks the movements of his private aircraft.
It also followed a recent complaint to Musk by influencer manager Ariadna Jacob, who was the subject of a critical article by Lorenz and who subsequently sued the reporter for defamation.
Jacob claimed that Lorenz doxxed her in the article, which appeared in The New York Times when she worked there. In Lorenz’s story, she linked to a public Zillow listing of an influencer collaboration home.
“Such shameful behavior will not be tolerated going forward,” Musk wrote in reply on Friday, a day before Lorenz was suspended from Twitter.
The move was condemned by Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee, who noted it was the second suspension of a Post journalist after reporter Drew Harwell was suspended on Thursday.
“The arbitrary suspension of another Post journalist further undermines Elon Musk's claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech,” Buzbee said in a statement. “Again, the suspension occurred with no warning, process or explanation -- this time as our reporter merely sought comment from Musk for a story. Post journalists should be reinstated immediately, without arbitrary conditions.”
The suspension of Lorenz with no clear explanation of her alleged infraction has been a theme of previous journalists' bans.
For instance, Twitter banned some reporters who merely linked to @elonjet’s new account on social media rival Mastodon—which was also briefly banned on Twitter.
“Twitter has served as an essential real time news source and played a crucial role in the journalism world,” Lorenz wrote, “but Musk’s arbitrary suspensions of journalists who report on him should worry anyone who values journalism and free expression.”