Self-proclaimed defender of freedom of expression, the controversial billionaire Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, caused an outcry on Friday and was threatened with sanctions by the European Union for having suspended the accounts of several American journalists.
Calling this decision “worrying”, European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova recalled that there are “red lines”, threatening 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 denounced in a tweet on Friday. “For this reason, we have a problem with Twitter,” added German diplomacy.
In another tweet, the French Minister for the Digital Transition, Jean-Noël Barrot, said he was “afflicted by the drift into which Elon Musk is precipitating Twitter”: “Freedom of the press is at the very foundation of democracy. To attack one is to attack the other”.
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 Elon Musk’s private jet rides.
Twitter did not say why these accounts were suspended, or how long they were suspended. The owner of the social network, a source of much controversy since he bought it in October, however gave some indications in a flurry of tweets posted overnight from Thursday to Friday.
“Accounts involved in doxing receive a temporary suspension of 7 days”, tweeted Elon Musk, indicating that these rules applied “to journalists” (with quotes, editor’s note) like to anyone else ” .
The term “doxing” means publicly disclosing personal information about an individual on the internet without their consent. “They posted my exact real-time location, literally assassination coordinates, in direct (and obvious) violation of Twitter’s terms of service,” Musk said.
The Twitter account of Mastodon, a competitor of the social network, was also suspended. “The impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters like that of CNN Donie O’Sullivan is disturbing but not surprising,” CNN said in a statement.
“Twitter’s growing instability and volatility is of particular concern to anyone using the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reassess our relationship based on that response,” CNN added.
“We hope that the accounts of all these journalists will be restored and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation,” said a spokesperson for the company. New York TimesCharlie Stadtlander.
At the start of this story, Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that a car in Los Angeles with one of his children in it had been followed by “a crazy stalker”, and seemed to point to the tracking of his private jet as being the one. raison. He announced in this tweet 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 later communicated that its policy now banned most tweets that showed someone’s location in real time. When he arrived at the head 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 what is and isn’t allowed on it. Fervent 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 that of Donald Trump. But he also suspended that of Kanye West after the publication of several messages deemed anti-Semitic and refused the return to the platform of the far-right conspirator, Alex Jones.