(San Francisco) Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, caused an outcry on Friday for having suspended the accounts of several American journalists and is 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 are facing censorship, physical threats and even worse,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova recalled that there were “red lines” not to be crossed, threatening Elon Musk “with sanctions, soon” in a tweet.
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.
The latter accused them of endangering his safety and that of his family. He claimed in a tweet on Wednesday that a vehicle with one of his children on board was tracked in Los Angeles by “a crazed stalker”, appearing to create a causal link to the real-time positioning of his jet.
The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 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”.
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, Mr. Musk left the discussion. He then deactivated the Twitter Spaces audio chat service, citing a “technical problem”.
In a tweet posted overnight from Thursday to Friday, Mr. Musk announced a temporary suspension of 7 days for “accounts involved in doxing”.
The term “doxing” means publicly disclosing personal information about an individual on the Internet without their consent.
“They published my exact geographic location in real time, that is to say literally the coordinates allowing an assassination, in direct violation [et évidente] of Twitter’s Terms of Service,” Musk also 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 the one [du journaliste] from CNN Donie O’Sullivan is disturbing but not surprising,” CNN responded in a statement.
“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.
After the incident of the tracked vehicle, in which his son was, Mr Musk 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 subsequently communicated to announce that its policy now prohibited 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 is not allowed on it.
A fervent defender of 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.