– Twitter blocks accounts of journalists – the European Union threatens to impose sanctions
Among those affected are journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN, who have provided critical reporting on Elon Musk. An upcoming competitor to the SMS service was also banned.
According to US media reports, Twitter has blocked the accounts of at least six prominent journalists. Some of them reported the day before that a user account through which all of Musk’s travels were documented had been suspended.
The US SMS Service did not provide any reasons for blocking the journalists’ accounts. These influencers work for well-known media outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. But freelance journalists have been affected, too.
“The sudden and unwarranted comment by reporters, including CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan, is disturbing — but not surprising,” the network said. “The increasing instability and volatility of Twitter should raise serious concerns for anyone using the platform.” CNN demanded clarification from Twitter and made the response to the incident dependent on it.
Twitter has also suspended the accounts of rival service Mastodon. The social media site previously posted on its Twitter page a link to an account on its website that uses publicly available flight data to track Musk’s private jet.
Twitter Policies Violation?
Several US media outlets reported that Twitter did not initially respond to requests for a direct statement. In several tweets Friday night, Musk wrote that the same rules apply to journalists as they apply to everyone else. It was referring to “intelligence”, i.e. revealing someone’s personal documents, including information such as their address.
The Twitter account that followed Musk’s private jet was created by student Jack Sweeney, who used a computer bot to analyze publicly available flight data. Musk stated in a tweet on Wednesday evening that the disabled bot account had violated the online platform’s user guidelines.
Billionaire Musk — currently the second richest person in the world after French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault — has thrown Twitter into disarray since the acquisition in late October. He fired senior management and about half of the workforce and opened blocked accounts such as that of former US President Donald Trump. Critics fear that hate speech and misinformation could rise on Twitter under Musk’s leadership.
The European Union threatens to impose sanctions
Meanwhile, the European Union threatened Elon Musk with sanctions. “The news about the arbitrary suspension of journalists is disturbing,” said EU Vice-President Vera Jourova on Friday – on Twitter.
She referred to the Digital Services Law, which stipulates respect for media freedom and basic rights. It was passed by the European Parliament last year and aims to more closely regulate very large online companies in the EU.
The Digital Services Act will be reinforced by EU law on freedom of information. Jourova made it clear that Musk should have been aware of this. “There are red lines. Sanctions soon.