(San Francisco) The new owner of Twitter Elon Musk 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 on Friday while the UN had denounced “a dangerous precedent” with the suspension of the accounts of a dozen journalists.
Elon Musk had launched a poll on Twitter to ask if he should restore suspended accounts immediately or in a week. Nearly 59% of the 3.69 million Internet users who took part in the survey replied that it should restore them immediately.
Some accounts seemed to have been reactivated, such as that of former Vox journalist Aaron Rupar.
“I was initially quite sick of being suspended but quickly realized it would be okay because I am blessed with a fantastic online community,” Mr. Rupar tweeted in thanks. people for their support.
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.
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 the suspension of the accounts by claiming that they endangered his safety as well as 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.
“They posted my exact geographic location in real time, that is to say literally the coordinates allowing an assassination, in direct (and obvious) violation of the conditions of use of Twitter”, he had also assured.
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 and 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.
The suspension of the accounts caused an outcry.
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, 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.
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”.
Since taking over the platform for $44 billion, the billionaire has sent mixed messages about what is and is not 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.