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Veteran CA journalist locked out of Musk’s Twitter for asking question

Veteran California journalist Gil Duran. | Courtesy Gil Duran

A veteran California journalist has been locked out of his Twitter account after tweeting a question about banned accounts. 

Gil Duran has been published in The New York Times and The Guardian and worked as an editorial page editor at the Sacramento Bee and SF Examiner newspapers. 

He currently works as a freelance journalist and on the FrameLab Substack political newsletter with UC Berkeley professor emeritus Dr. George Lakoff.

On Dec. 15, Duran tweeted about the formerly-banned @Joinmastodon Twitter account, asking, “is tweeting about a banned account now prohibited?” The question referred to Mastodon, a rival social media platform to Twitter.

Screenshot from Gil Duran's locked out Twitter account shows the tweet that got him in trouble. | Courtesy Twitter/Gil Duran

Duran says he wasn't suspended from Twitter, just locked out of his account, meaning he can’t tweet or see his account. That account, @gilduran76, was still visible for The Standard at the time of publication.

“It turns out Elon Musk's commitment to free speech is as fake as his hair,” Duran said. “All I did was tweet a question asking whether you could be banned for tweeting about an account that's been banned. It turns out the answer is ‘yes.’” 

Musk has recently banned a number of high-profile journalists from Twitter—many of whom were tasked with reporting on his actions. The list included CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac and the Washington Post's Taylor Lorenz.

Duran admits he thought the tweet could have been framed in a way that might see him banned, but added, “I didn’t think they'd be petty enough to come after a local journalist with less than 8,000 followers.”

Duran said Twitter will unlock his account if he deletes the tweet, but the veteran journalist has other ideas and advice for fellow journalists on the platform. Twitter has been contacted for comment.

Elon Musk uses a mobile device as he sits in a Tesla car. | Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

“The first rule of a dictatorship is that you do not comply with the dictator,” he said. “I think it's a badge of honor. I think all journalists should be aiming to get banned from Twitter for doing their jobs. You can be a Nazi or white supremacist on Twitter but you can’t ask a question that annoys Elon—so that’s pretty telling.” 

Duran has since noticed a “pretty good growth of followers over on Mastodon,” especially among fellow journalists.

He likened Musk’s Twitter discourse since the billionaire took over as “a political communications 101” class and joked: “As a former PR advisor, you don't wanna give me this much attention, but thank you.”

Musk ran a Twitter poll Sunday asking if he should step down as the company’s CEO—around 57% of the more than 17 million responses said yes.