EU warns Elon Musk of sanctions on Twitter for suspensions of journalists

The European Union is threatening to sanction Twitter after Elon Musk abruptly suspended several journalists from the platform on Thursday night.

“The news about the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is disturbing,” tweeted(Opens in a new window) Věra Jourová, EU Vice-President for Values ​​and Transparency.

Suspensions could violate European law. In his tweet, Jourová pointed out that the EU’s Digital Services Act and Media Freedom Act(Opens in a new window) are designed to protect freedom of expression and the independence of the media. “@ElonMusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”

The German Foreign Office has also weighed in on the suspensions. “Freedom of the press cannot be turned on and off as you wish. As of today, the journalists below can no longer follow us, comment on us or criticize us. So we have a problem @Twitter”, the agency wrote(Opens in a new window) on Twitter.

The warnings are ironic since Musk acquired Twitter ostensibly to protect free speech on the platform. And the threat of regulation comes as the EU has already demanded that Musk meet EU requirements on social media platforms.

Last month, European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton listed the various ways Twitter will need to regulate itself in order to comply with EU rules. This includes investing in content moderation — which Musk has worked to reduce since taking over the company — while ensuring freedom of speech.

However, Musk says the suspensions against journalists will be temporary and potentially only last seven days. He shut down the accounts, he says, because reporters were ‘doxxing’ his real-time location by linking or posting screenshots from @ElonJet, a service that aggregated publicly available information to track locations. takeoff and landing of Musk’s personal jet. .

The day before, Musk permanently suspended the @ElonJet account, even though he had previously said he would not do so in order to protect free speech. He has since changed his mind, saying a stalker followed a car carrying one of his children, and implemented a ban on sharing people’s real-time location information via Twitter.

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Still, reporters point out that they never shared Musk’s real-time location. Instead, they simply posted links to @ElonJet accounts on other platforms while covering Twitter’s sudden decision to suspend rival social network Mastodon from sharing those links.

But in a live chat(Opens in a new window) On Twitter Spaces on Thursday, Musk appeared to claim that sharing a link to alternative @ElonJet accounts amounted to doxxing. “You doxx, you’re suspended, end of story,” Musk said. You can listen to his brief appearance in the clip below:

That Spaces, meanwhile, was notable because two of the suspended reporters – Drew Harwell of The Washington Post and Matt Binder of Mashable, as well as the owner of @ElonJet, were able to participate in the live chat. This was apparently a problem, and as of this morning Twitter shut down the option to start a Spaces chat, TechCrunch notes(Opens in a new window).

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