Elon Musk warned of EU sanctions after banning journalists from platforms
Officials in Brussels have warned Twitter owner Elon Musk the company could face sanctions “soon” after booting a series of journalists covering the billionaire off its platform.
European Commissioner Vera Jourova said that the suspensions were “worrying” and that EU law protects media freedom.
“News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying,” Ms Jourova said.
The commissioner, who is the European Commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, said : “EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct.
“Elon Musk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”
It comes after Twitter overnight suspended the accounts of a series of journalists who have been writing about Mr Musk.
The Twitter owner – who bought the platform for 44 billion dollars in October – joined a live broadcast which included some of these reporters.
He accused the journalists of “doxxing” him – an online term used for the publication of private information that could be used to identify a person’s location or address.
“As I’m sure everyone who’s been doxxed would agree, showing real-time information about somebody’s location is inappropriate, and I think everyone on this call would not like that to be done to them,” he said on the live call – hosted on Twitter’s Spaces service.
“There is not going to be any distinction in the future between journalists – so called journalists – and regular people.”
As I’m sure everyone who’s been doxxed would agree, showing real-time information about somebody’s location is inappropriate, and I think everyone on this call would not like that to be done to them
A short while later the Spaces service itself was suspended. Twitter does not appear to have explained why it suspended the Spaces service.
However some users pointed out that Twitter profiles which had been banned appeared to still be able to use the Spaces function despite their suspension.
The latest in a long series of scandals sparked by Mr Musk came after Twitter suspended an account which posts public information about the flight paths of his private jet.
There is not going to be any distinction in the future between journalists - so called journalists - and regular people
The @elonjet account was suspended, Mr Musk claimed, for doxxing him. All planes have to have a transponder which shows their locations, so the information is public.
The decision to ban the account came just over a month since he had promised not to take the account down.
“My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” Mr Musk tweeted on November 6.
More than half a dozen journalists who reported on the suspension of the account were themselves suspended from Twitter. They included reporters for the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post among others.
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