Freedom of expression: Elon Musk suspends journalists on Twitter and causes an outcry

Freedom of expression: Elon Musk suspends journalists on Twitter and causes an outcry

Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, caused an outcry on Friday after suspending the accounts of several American journalists and being threatened with sanctions by the European Union, while the UN denounced “a dangerous precedent”.

The United Nations has vigorously denounced the suspension of these Twitter accounts by Elon Musk, who nevertheless proclaims himself a defender of freedom of expression.

“The decision sets a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists everywhere face censorship, physical threats, and even worse,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

The Vice-President of the European Commission, Vera Jourova, recalled that there were “red lines” not to be crossed, threatening Elon Musk “with sanctions, soon” in a Twitter post.

A dozen American journalists have been suspended from the social network. Among them, media workers like 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 on Wednesday to suspend the account that automatically reported the routes of Elon Musk’s private plane.

The latter accused them of endangering his safety and that of his family.

He claimed in a post on his site on Wednesday that a vehicle with one of his children on board had been tracked to Los Angeles by “a crazed stalker”, seeming to create a causal link with the real-time positioning of his plane.

The organization Reporters Without Borders called for the accounts of the journalists concerned to be restored, considering that “the arbitrariness of the major platforms” represented a “major danger for democracy”.

“Temporary suspension”

Twitter did not say why these accounts were suspended. The owner of the social network, a source of much controversy since he bought it in October, however gave some indications.

“Everyone will be treated the same,” he said in an audio conversation organized live on Twitter on Friday, indicating that there would be no privileges for journalists. Relaunched on the subject, Mr. Musk left the discussion. He then deactivated the Twitter Spaces audio chat service, citing a “technical problem”.

In a tweet published overnight from Thursday to Friday, Mr. Musk had announced a temporary suspension of seven days for “accounts involved in doxing “.

The term ” doxing means making personal information about an individual public on the Internet without their consent.

“They posted my exact real-time location, literally the coordinates for an assassination, in direct (and obvious) violation of Twitter’s terms of service,” Musk also said. The Twitter account of Mastodon, a competitor of the social network, was also suspended.


After the incident of the tracked vehicle, in which his son was, Mr Musk announced in this post that he was going to sue the person behind the now suspended @ElonJet account.

Created by a student and followed by around 500,000 people, @ElonJet used public data to automatically indicate when and where the SpaceX and Tesla boss’s device took off and landed.

Twitter subsequently communicated to announce that its policy now prohibited most posts that provided someone’s location in real time.

When he arrived at the head of Twitter, Elon Musk had however promised not to touch the @ElonJet account.

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