European Union lawmakers have expressed concern following Twitter’s arbitrary suspension of some journalist accounts. It all started yesterday – December 15 – when some journalists began to complain about the impossibility of accessing their Twitter accounts, apparently suspended without warning.
The list of suspended journalists also includes pens from major newspapers, such as Drew Harwell (del Washington Post), Ryan Mac (New York Times) and Donie O’Sullivan (CNN).
Does the European Union threaten Twitter with sanctions?
This morning Vera Jourová, EU vice-president for values and transparency, wrote a warning message against Elon Musk on Twitter. Jourová reminded the Tesla CEO that there are laws regarding freedom of expression, threatening repercussions in the form of sanctions. Her tweet reads:
“The reports of the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter are concerning. The EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced by our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines [leggi da seguire]. And sanctions are on the way.”
News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying. EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.
— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) December 16, 2022
Under the aforementioned regulation, the EU could order fines of up to 6% of global turnover of the offending company. Not only that: the European Union, in the event of ascertained violations, could force Twitter to ad adopt systems that guarantee plurality of information. In extreme cases it is even expected the blackout of the service (in this case Twitter) in the countries of the Union.
Elon Musk’s version
Elon Musk said accounts were suspended consistent with new policies doxxing of the platform, introduced last Wednesday. The anti-doxxing regulation aims to prohibit the sharing of live location information of users. A move that led to the closure of the @ElonJet profile – which, since June 2020, has been reporting the real-time location of Musk’s private jet.
What does this have to do with journalists? Well, this is where things get a little more confusing. According to Musk, at the beginning of the week, some journalists would have followed the car in which there was his son. However, it remains to be explained how he linked doxxing to the journalists in question. According to Elon Musk, Drew Harwell of the Washington Post, one of the suspended journalists, allegedly shared posts from @ElonJetthus also resharing the exact location of Elon Musk’s private jet.
The fact is that Musk does not look kindly on journalists. In a chat on SpacesTwitter’s audio streaming service, Musk said (via Tech Crunch):
“There will be no distinction in the future between journalists, ‘so-called journalists’, and ordinary people. Everyone will be treated equally. You are not special because you are a journalist. You are just a Twitter user, you are a citizen like any other. So no special treatment. Do you doxx? Get suspended. End of the story.”