Elon Musk faces international protests after Twitter bans journalists


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

In Europe, the German Foreign Office tweeted their concern over the impact Musk’s moves could have on press freedom, while a senior EU official said Twitter must abide by the bloc’s rules or face possible sanctions.

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

“The EU Digital Services Law requires respect for press freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct,” Jourová said in a statement. post on twitteradding that Musk “should be aware of that.”

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

A United Nations spokesman said it was “deeply disturbed by the arbitrary suspension” of journalists’ Twitter accounts, warning that the company’s actions have set “a dangerous precedent” amid growing threats to freedom. press around the world.

Jodie Ginsberg, chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the organization is “deeply alarmed” by the move and called on Twitter to “immediately restore these reporters’ accounts.”

And numerous Democratic lawmakers in the United States criticized Musk after his company suspended the accounts of several journalists covering him on Thursday night, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac and freelance journalist 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 journalists only increases the intensity around you.”

“Take a moment and leave the proto-fascism,” he tweeted.

Massachusetts Rep. Lori Trahan suggested the suspensions directly contradicted assurances Twitter had given its staff just hours earlier. “My team met with @Twitter today,” Trahan tweeted Thursday night. “They told us that they will not retaliate against independent journalists or researchers who publish criticism of the platform. Less than 12 hours later, several technology reporters have been suspended. What’s the problem @elonmusk?

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

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

Musk falsely claimed that journalists had violated his new “doxing” policy by sharing his live location, amounting to what he described as “kill coordinates.” 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 competitive emerging social media service, Mastodon, allowing the continued posting of @ElonJet, an account that posts the location of the Musk’s private jet. .

Other reporters 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, senior EU official, warned musk in late November that the social media platform must take significant steps to comply with block content moderation laws.

“Twitter will need to implement transparent user policies, significantly strengthen content moderation and protect free speech, tackle misinformation resolutely, and limit targeted advertising,” Breton said at the time. “All this requires sufficient AI and human resources, both in volumes and skills. I look forward to making progress in all of these areas and we will get to assess Twitter’s readiness on the site.”

Musk had some Democratic supporters. California Rep. Ted Lieu suggested it was inappropriate for Congress to hold hearings on Musk’s handling of the suspended accounts, because “it’s not the government’s job 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 California Rep. Ro Khanna, whom Musk has praised for criticizing Twitter’s decision to suppress the New York Post’s Hunter Biden 2020 laptop story, told CNN: “It’s one thing to say you have the First Correct amendment, but when you’re one of the world’s leading innovators, you also have some responsibility, and I just don’t think it’s coming back, it’s not a good look for him. And he would tell him in person.

— Chris Liakos, Oliver Darcy, Eve Brennan and Nadine Schmidt contributed to this reporting.

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