– Twitter blocks journalists’ accounts – EU threatens sanctions
Reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN have been among those who have reported critically on Elon Musk. An upcoming competitor to the text messaging service was also blocked.
According to US media reports, Twitter has suspended the accounts of at least six prominent journalists. Some of them had reported earlier in the day about suspending a user account that documented all of Musk’s flights.
The US texting service did not give reasons for disabling the journalists’ accounts. The victims work for well-known media outlets such as CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post. But freelance journalists also suffered.
“The sudden and unnecessary suspension of journalists, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is troubling — but not surprising,” the network said. “Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of great concern to anyone using the platform.” CNN has sought an explanation from Twitter and is dependent on its reaction to the incident.
Twitter also disabled the accounts of rival service Mastodon. The social media site previously posted a link on its Twitter page to an account on its own website that uses publicly available flight data to track Musk’s private jet.
Violating Twitter’s policies?
Twitter did not initially respond to requests for a direct statement, several US media reported. However, in several tweets Friday night, Musk wrote that the same rules apply to journalists as everyone else. He refers to “doxxing” as including a person’s personal documents, including information such as their address.
The Twitter account that followed Musk’s private jet was created by student Jack Sweeney, who used an automated computer bot to analyze publicly available flight data. Musk said in a tweet on Wednesday evening that the disabled bot account violated the website’s user guidelines.
Multi-billionaire Musk – currently the world’s second-richest person behind French luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnold – has sent Twitter into a frenzy since the takeover in late October. He fired top management and half the staff and opened blocked accounts like former US President Donald Trump. Critics fear that under Musk’s leadership, hate speech and misinformation could spread on Twitter.
The EU threatens sanctions
Meanwhile, the European Union has threatened economic sanctions against Elon Musk. “The news of the arbitrary suspension of journalists is disturbing,” EU Vice-President Vera Djurova said on Friday – on Twitter.
He referred to the Digital Services Act, which respects media freedom and fundamental rights. It was passed by the EU Parliament last year and aims to more closely regulate the largest online companies in the EU.
Legislation on digital services will be reinforced by EU legislation on media freedom. Musk must have known about this, Zorova explained. “There are red lines. Barriers soon.”