October 4, 2023

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Elon Musk faces international outcry after Twitter bans journalists

Elon Musk faces international outcry after Twitter bans journalists


Elon Musk’s decision Suddenly prominent tech journalists were banned of Twitter sparking a backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe, the German Foreign Ministry chirp concerned about 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 potential sanctions.

Vera Jourova, the European Commission’s Vice President for Values ​​and Transparency, said the “arbitrary suspension” of the journalists was “alarming”, 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 what is being promoted within the #MediaFreedomAct framework,” Jourová said in a statement. Posted on TwitterAdding that Musk “should realize that.”

“There are red lines,” she continued. “And penalties soon.”

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

CPJ Chair Jodi Ginsberg said the organization was “deeply concerned” by the move and called on Twitter to “immediately restore the accounts of these reporters.”

And several US Democratic lawmakers took Musk to task after his company suspended the accounts of several journalists who covered him Thursday night, including CNN correspondent Donnie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mack and freelance journalist Aaron Robar.

New York rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she understands Musk’s vulnerability as a public figure, “but slipping into abuse of power + intermittently banning journalists only intensifies those around you.”

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“Take a moment and get rid of primal fascism,” she wrote on Twitter.

Massachusetts representative. Lori Trahan noted that the suspension was in direct contradiction to the assurances Twitter provided to its employees just hours earlier. “My team met with Twitter today,” Trahan tweeted Thursday night. “They told us they would not retaliate against independent journalists or researchers who publish criticisms of the platform. Less than 12 hours later, several tech reporters have been suspended. What’s the deal, elonmusk?”

A Thursday meeting with Twitter’s government affairs representative was previously scheduled, Francis Grobar, a spokesman for Trahan, said in response to concerns about continued access to Twitter by academic researchers after the company’s layoffs. Grobar told CNN in a statement that the suspension later that day “came to our immediate attention.”

Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to a request for comment Thursday evening, and the platform did not specifically explain why journalists were barred from the platform.

Musk falsely claimed that journalists violated his new “doxxing” policy by sharing his live location, which amounted to what he described as “assassination coordinates.” CNN’s O’Sullivan did not share the billionaire’s direct location.

Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan reported on Twitter that the social media company had suspended the account of an emerging competitive social media service, Mastodon, which allowed ElonJet, an account posting the location of Musk’s private jet, to continue. ..

Other reporters who were suspended Thursday also wrote about the account recently.

European leaders have previously said they are watching how Musk’s takeover of Twitter will affect the platform. Thierry Breton, Senior European Union Official, Musk warned in late November that the social media platform must take significant steps to comply with the block’s content moderation laws.

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“Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly strengthen content moderation and protect freedom of expression, resolutely tackle disinformation, and limit targeted advertising,” Britton said at the time. “All of this requires a sufficient amount of AI and human resources, both in terms of size and skills. I look forward to progress in all of these areas and we will come to assess the readiness of Twitter on site.”

Musk has had some Democratic advocates. California rep. Ted Liu noted that it would be inappropriate for Congress to hold hearings on Musk’s handling of suspended accounts, because “it is not the government’s role to tell Twitter who to block, who to suspend or promote.” He added that the First Amendment prevents Congress from regulating private corporate speech.

But the California rep. Ro Khanna, who was praised by Musk for criticizing Twitter’s decision to suppress Hunter Biden’s 2020 laptop story published by the New York Post, told CNN: “It’s nice to say the First Amendment is right, but when you’re one of the world’s leading innovators, you also have some Responsibility, and I don’t think it’s become that, it’s not a good look for him. And I’ll tell him that personally.”

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