The self-proclaimed defender of freedom of expression, the controversial billionaire Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, caused an uproar on Friday and was threatened with sanctions by the European Union for suspending the accounts of several American journalists.
European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova described the decision as “worrying” and recalled that there are “red lines that threaten Elon Musk “with sanctions soon”, in a tweet.
– Freedom of the press must not be turned on and off at will, the German Foreign Ministry said in a tweet on Friday. “For this reason we have a problem with Twitter,” German diplomacy added.
In another tweet, French digital transition minister Jean-Noël Barrot said he was “sick of the drift that Elon Musk unleashes on Twitter”: “Freedom of the press is the very foundation of democracy. to attack the other”.
A dozen American journalists have been suspended from the social network. Among them are media workers such as CNN (Donie O’Sullivan), the New York Times (Ryan Mac), the Washington Post (Drew Harwell) and independent journalists.
Some had tweeted about Twitter’s decision Wednesday to suspend the account that automatically reported Elon Musk’s private jet trips.
– “Temporary suspension” –
Twitter did not say why these accounts were suspended or for how long they were suspended. However, the owner of the social network, a source of much controversy since he bought it in October, gave some indications in a flurry of tweets sent overnight from Thursday to Friday.
“Accounts involved in doxing receive a 7-day temporary suspension”, Elon Musk tweeted, indicating that these rules applied “+ to journalists + (with quotes, ed. note) just like everyone else”.
The term “doxing” means the public publication of personal information about a person on the Internet without their consent.
“They published my exact real-time location, literally murder coordinates, in direct (and obvious) violation of Twitter’s terms of service,” Musk said.
The Twitter account of Mastodon, a competitor to the social network, was also suspended.
“The impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters like CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan is disturbing but not surprising,” CNN said in a statement.
“Twitter’s growing instability and volatility is of particular concern to everyone who uses the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response,” CNN added.
“We hope that all of these journalists’ accounts will be restored and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation,” New York Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander said.
– “harassment” –
At the start of this story, Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday that a car in Los Angeles with one of his children in it had been followed by “a crazy stalker,” and appeared to point to the tracking of his private jet as being the one. reason.
He announced in this tweet that he would be suing the person behind the now-suspended @ElonJet account.
Created by a student and followed by about 500,000 people, @ElonJet used public data to automatically indicate when and where the SpaceX and Tesla executive’s device took off and landed.
Twitter subsequently communicated to announce that its policy now banned most tweets that showed a person’s real-time location.
When he arrived at the helm of Twitter, Elon Musk had promised not to touch the @ElonJet account.
Since taking over the platform for $44 billion, the billionaire has sent mixed messages about the dos and don’ts on it.
An ardent defender of a great freedom of expression – as long as the remarks respect the law – he restored accounts previously banned by the social network, including Donald Trump’s.
But he also suspended Kanye West’s following the publication of several messages deemed anti-Semitic and refused to return to the platform of far-right conspirator Alex Jones.