After Twitter suspended the accounts of more than half a dozen journalists who reported on the company and its new owner, Elon Musk, the European Union (EU) threatened to sanction the social network.
Some of the suspended journalists were tweeting about the decision this week to take down the @ElonJet account, which tracked the flights of Musk’s private plane, and about versions coming from that same user on other social networks.
Among the blocked accounts are those of workers of CNN, The New York Times y The Washington Postas well as independent communicators.
In addition, the user of Mastodon, also a microblogging social network, but open source, and an alternative promoted by detractors of the new version of Twitter under the orders of the richest man in the world, was suspended.
“They posted my exact location in real time, basically murder coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of the Twitter terms of service“, Musk justified when echoing the decision.
“If someone published real-time locations and addresses of The New York Times reporters, the FBI would be investigating, there would be hearings on Capitol Hill, and (Joe) Biden would give speeches about the end of democracy,” ironized the magnate, who later published a survey asking users whether or not to unblock journalists’ profiles.
The suspension of @ElonJet occurred last Wednesday, after the also owner of Tesla and SpaceX tweeted that a vehicle in Los Angeles carrying one of his children was followed by “a crazy stalker” and appeared to blame the alleged incident on tracking his private plane.
In his tweet, he stated that he took legal action against the person who operated the account, which was suspended despite the fact that the businessman had promised not to do so in pursuit of the freedom of expression that he claims to defend.
“Well it looks like @ElonJet is suspended,” its creator Jack Sweeney tweeted from his personal account @JxckSweeney, which also ran the same luck later,reported the AFP news agency.
Later, Twitter reported that it had updated its policy to prohibit tweets that, in most cases, reveal someone’s location in real time.
Musk wrote that “any account that doxxes (public disclosure of personal data) with real-time location information will be suspended, as it is a physical breach of security.”
The reaction of the European Union
The European Union (EU) reacted to the businessman’s decision and warned about possible measures.
“The news about the suspension of journalists from Twitter is worrying (…) Musk must take note of this. There are red lines. And, soon, there will be sanctions,” said the European Commissioner for Transparency, Vera Jourova.
In her message, the leader referred to one of the two laws that the EU adopted in July and with which the bloc will regulate the activity of the giants of the sector and the main platforms in the block.
Both the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) will become applicable from next year.
With this regulation, the EU seeks to regulate the tax practices and strategies of the giants gathered under the acronym GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook which is now called Meta, Amazon and Microsoft) as well as other companies.
These platforms will remain under permanent surveillance, and violations of the legislation may be penalized with up to 6% of their global turnover. In case of repeated violations, a platform will not be able to operate in the EU.
In that sense, in her warning to Musk, Jourova recalled that the DSA requires “respect for press freedom and fundamental rights”.
The German Foreign Ministry indicated today that it was concerned about “freedom of the press” after the blocking of journalists’ accounts.
“Press freedom should not be turned on and off” capriciously, the portfolio tweeted along with a screenshot of the suspended accounts.
Also the French Minister for the Digital Transition, Jean-Noël Barrot, said on the same social network that he was “distressed by the drift into which Elon Musk is precipitating Twitter.”
“Freedom of the press is at the very foundation of democracy, is an attack against the other“, he claimed.
The media outlets of the affected journalists also expressed their repudiation: “The impulsive and unjustified suspension of several journalists such as CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan is disturbing but not surprising,” the chain said in a statement.
“The increasing instability and volatility of Twitter is of particular concern to anyone who uses the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation and will reassess our relationship. based on that answer“, they added.
“We hope that the accounts of all these journalists are restored and that Twitter provides a satisfactory explanation,” said Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesman for The New York Times.
Reporters Without Borders, against
Also Reporters Without Borders (RSF) He called for the reestablishment of the suspended accounts and denounced that “the arbitrariness of the large platforms” poses a “greater danger to democracy.”
“We must put an end to the arbitrariness of the platforms and recover their democratic control before they fully submit democracies to their whims and it is too late,” said Christophe Deloire, general secretary of this NGO for the defense of the freedom of the press founded in France in 1985.
Since taking over Twitter, Musk sent mixed messages about what is authorized or not on the platform.
He restored accounts previously suspended by the social network, including that of former US President Donald Trump, but also canceled that of rapper Kanye West after the publication of several messages considered anti-Semitic.
And he rejected the return to Twitter of Alex Jones, founder of the far-right website InfoWars, who was sentenced to pay some $1.5 billion in damages for claiming the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School it was a “hoax”.