Elon Musk faces international outcry after Twitter bans journalists


Elon Musk’s decision to suddenly ban prominent tech journalists from Twitter is provoking a strong backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe, the German Foreign Ministry he tweeted His concerns about the impact Musk’s moves could have on press freedom, while a senior EU official said Twitter must comply with the bloc’s rules or face possible sanctions.

Věra Jourová, the European Commission’s vice-president for values ​​and transparency, said the “arbitrary suspension” of the journalists was “worrying” and indicated that the company could face sanctions as a result.

“The EU Digital Services Act requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced by our #MediaFreedomAct,” Jourová said in one post on Twitteradding that Musk “must be aware of this.”

“There are red lines,” he continued. “And sanctions, soon.”

A UN spokesman said it was “deeply disturbed by the arbitrary suspension” of journalists’ accounts on Twitter, warning that the company’s actions had set “a dangerous precedent” amid growing threats to the freedom of press worldwide.

Jodie Ginsberg, president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the organization was “deeply alarmed” by the move and called on Twitter to “immediately reinstate the accounts of these journalists.”

And scores of Democratic U.S. lawmakers took Musk to task after his company suspended the accounts of several reporters covering him late Thursday night, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, the New York Times’ Ryan Mac and reporter independent Aaron Rupar.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she understood Musk’s feelings of vulnerability as a public figure, “but descending into abuse of power + erratically banning reporters only heightens the intensity around you.”

“Kick off and quit proto-fascism,” he tweeted.

Massachusetts Rep. Lori Trahan suggested the suspensions directly contradict assurances Twitter had given its staff just hours earlier. “My team met with @Twitter today,” Trahan tweeted Thursday evening. “They told us that they are not going to retaliate against journalists or independent researchers who publish criticism on the platform. Less than 12 hours later, several tech journalists have been suspended. What’s the deal @elonmusk?”

Thursday’s meeting with Twitter’s government affairs representative had been previously scheduled, said Francis Grubar, a spokesman for Trahan, in response to concerns about academic researchers’ continued access to Twitter after layoffs at the company. The suspensions later that day “immediately caught our attention,” Grubar told CNN in a statement.

Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to a request for comment Thursday evening, and the platform did not explain precisely why reporters were banned from the platform.

Musk falsely claimed that journalists had violated his new “doxxing” policy by sharing his live location, which he called “coordinates of murder.” CNN’s O’Sullivan did not share the billionaire’s live location.

Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan reported on Twitter that the social media company had suspended the account of a competing emerging social media service, Mastodon, which has allowed the continued posting of @ElonJet, an account that posts the location of Musk’s private jet. . .

Other journalists suspended Thursday had also recently written about the account.

European leaders previously said they were watching how Musk’s acquisition of Twitter would affect the platform. Thierry Breton, a senior EU official, warned Musk in late November that the social media platform must take significant steps to comply with the blog’s content moderation laws.

“Twitter will need to implement transparent user policies, significantly strengthen content moderation and protect free speech, address misinformation decisively and limit targeted advertising,” Breton said at the time. “All this requires sufficient AI and human resources, both in terms of volume and skills. I hope to make progress in all these areas and we will come to assess Twitter’s readiness in situ.”

Musk had some Democratic supporters. California Rep. Ted Lieu suggested it was inappropriate for Congress to hold hearings on Musk’s handling of suspended accounts, because “it’s not the government’s role to tell Twitter who to ban, who to suspend, or who to promote.” The First Amendment prevents Congress from regulating the speech of private companies, he added.

But he gets it from California. Ro Khanna, whom Musk has praised for criticizing Twitter’s decision to delete the New York Post’s 2020 Hunter Biden laptop story, told CNN: “It’s one thing to say you have the First Amendment right, but when you’re one of the leading innovators in the world. , you also have a certain responsibility, and I don’t think it’s becoming, it’s not a good look for him. And I would tell him that in person.”

– Chris Liakos, Oliver Darcy, Eve Brennan and Nadine Schmidt contributed to this report.

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