Twitter: Elon Musk backtracks on suspended accounts

Depuis son rachat de Twitter, Elon Musk est la source de nombreuses polémiques sur sa gestion du réseau social.

Posted Dec 17 2022 at 9:39

Backtracking for Elon Musk. The new owner of Twitter announced late Friday evening that he would restore the suspended accounts of several journalists on this social network, after accusing them of endangering his family. “People have spoken. The accounts that had published my location will have their suspension lifted,” tweeted the billionaire, who had been threatened with sanctions by the European Union, while the UN had denounced “a dangerous precedent”.

Elon Musk had launched a poll on Twitter to ask if he should restore the suspended accounts immediately or in a week. Nearly 59% of the 3.69 million Internet users who took part in the survey replied that he should restore them immediately.

Endangering his family

Some accounts seemed to have been reactivated this Saturday morning. Among the dozen people affected are media workers like CNN (Donie O’Sullivan), the “New York Times” (Ryan Mac), the “Washington Post” (Drew Harwell) and independent journalists. The controversy began on Wednesday, when Elon Musk announced that he was suspending @elonjet, an account that automatically reported the journeys of his private jet. Some accounts then tweeted about the decision.

Elon Musk had justified his decision by saying that they endangered his safety, as well as that of his family. “They posted my exact real-time location, literally the coordinates for an assassination, in direct (and obvious) violation of Twitter’s terms of service,” he said.

International outcry

Twitter did not say why these accounts were suspended. The owner of the social network, source of many controversies 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, he had left the discussion then deactivated the Twitter Spaces audio conversation service, arguing of a “technical problem”.

The United Nations has vigorously denounced the suspension of these 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 are facing censorship, physical threats and even worse,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio 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”. And the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had called for the reinstatement of the accounts of the journalists concerned, considering that “the arbitrariness of the major platforms” represented a “major danger for democracy”.