Elon Musk reinstates suspended Twitter accounts of journalists – DW – 12/17/2022

Twitter reinstated the accounts of most of the journalists who were suspended by owner Elon Musk, who disputed the content of their tweets, early Saturday.

The suspensions included reporters from CNN, The New York Times Y the washington post.

Musk, who claims to be a “free speech absolutist,” froze the accounts on Thursday, prompting accusations that he was trying to stifle voices of dissent.

Why were the accounts frozen?

Among those suspended were journalists who tweeted about the closure of a Twitter account that tracked the flights of Musk’s private jet.

Twitter did not say why the accounts were suspended and some journalists say they had not posted anything. However, Musk accused some journalists of sharing his whereabouts. Some of those who were suspended by Twitter said they had not posted anything of that nature.

Musk said Wednesday that a car carrying one of his children in Los Angeles was followed by “a crazy stalker.” In the tweet, he said that legal action is being taken against the person who managed the ElonJet account, apparently blaming them for the incident but providing no evidence.

Musk had previously said he would not suspend the aircraft tracking account.

Elon Musk restores Twitter accounts of blocked journalists

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Twitter said it had updated its policy to, in most cases, prevent tweets from revealing people’s real-time location.

The Tesla mogul tweeted late Friday that Twitter would lift the bans after a public poll on the site showed nearly 60% of those polled favored immediate reinstatements over week-long bans.

Most of the accounts had been restored by early Saturday morning. Among the exceptions was Business Insider’s Linette Lopez, who Twitter suspended after the other journalists.

Lopez published a series of articles between 2018 and 2021 calling attention to the alleged manufacturing shortcomings of Tesla cars.

International conviction for moving

The suspensions drew condemnation from officials in France, Germany and Britain, as well as from the European Union and the United Nations.

The German Foreign Ministry posted images of the frozen accounts on Twitter and said the ministry disagreed with decisions endangering press freedom.

“Press freedom cannot be turned on and off on a whim,” the ministry wrote on its official Twitter account. “The journalists below can no longer follow us, comment and criticize. We have a problem with that, @Twitter.”

EU Commissioner Vera Jourova posted on Twitter that the platform could face heavy fines under European law.

“The news about the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying,” Jourova said.

“Elon Musk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon,” he added.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said it was reconsidering its involvement with Twitter.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the move set “a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists around the world face censorship, physical threats and even worse.”

Rocky ride since Twitter acquisition

Since Musk seized control after a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, primarily through the sale of shares in automaker Tesla, the platform has gone from one controversy to another.

Some advertisers left Twitter after Musk acquired the platform in October over concerns about content moderation. Musk has promised that the site will not become a “hell” for toxic views.

A scheme to allow users to sign up for “blue tick” labels for their accounts, previously a validation of authenticity, has been removed due to concerns about the spread of misinformation.

Musk has laid off much of Twitter’s staff, and human content moderation teams have largely been laid off in favor of automated processes.

Musk reinstated the account of former US President Donald Trump and said Twitter would end its policy of banning misinformation about COVID-19.

rc/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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