EU finds suspension of journalists' Twitter accounts by Elon Musk 'worrying'

The boss of the social network Twitter Elon Musk, October 4, 2022. AFP - OLIVIER DOULIERY

Text by: RFI Follow

4 mins

The EU warned Elon Musk on Friday (December 16th) that Twitter could be subject to sanctions under a future media law, after the "worrying" suspension of several journalists' accounts on the social network.


Read more

Elon Musk is once again being talked about for his management of Twitter.

This time, the boss of the social network is singled out for having suspended, Thursday, December 15, the accounts of several American journalists, including reporters from CNN, the

New York Times

and the Washington Post who wrote or had comments critical of his regard. 

The billionaire, boss of Telsa, who acquired the platform a few months ago by posing as the guarantor of freedom of expression, thus justified his decision in a post that he pinned on his account: “ 

Criticize me all day is fine, but revealing my location in real time and putting my family in danger is not (...)

The same rules apply to 'journalists' as to everyone else.


Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022

Musk denounces the sharing of "assassination coordinates"

The day before, Wednesday December 14, Elon Musk had started by suspending a batch of Twitter accounts intended to follow the movements of the private jets of several billionaires, including his own, in the name of the protection of privacy and the endangerment of his family.

Any account revealing anyone's real-time location information will be suspended as a breach of physical security.

This includes posting links to sites with real-time location information.

Posting places someone has been to with a slight delay is not a security concern, so that's fine.


If Twitter did not specify why these accounts had been suspended, nor the duration of their suspension, Elon Musk did however deliver some indications in a flurry of tweets posted overnight from Thursday to Friday.

 “Accounts involved in doxing receive a 7-day temporary suspension.

 We learn that the boss of Twitter criticizes the suspended reporters for sharing “ 


-time location data 


He calls them " 

assassination coordinates 


CNN and the

Washington Post

 have denied that their reporters broadcast such information. 

In his last tweet before the closure of his account, one of the reporters targeted, Drew Harwell nevertheless denounced the suspension by the social network with the little blue bird of the account of one of its competing platforms, the so-called Mastodon.

All the links present on Twitter, referring to the Mastodon servers, have also been blocked.

This was The Washington Post's @drewharwell's post before he was suspended from Twitter, outlining how Twitter suspended the account of its competitor Mastodon earlier today.

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) December 16, 2022

A changing definition of freedom of expression

It seems a long time ago on November 7 when Elon Musk said this: " 

My commitment to freedom of expression even extends to not banning the account following my plane, even if it is a direct security risk. personal. 

A month and a half later, his definition of freedom of expression seems to have evolved. 

An astonishing situation?

Not really.

For several weeks, the boss of Twitter has been chaining contradictory postures: after having restored accounts previously banned by the social network, including that of Donald Trump, he suspended that of Kanye West after the publication of several anti-Semitic messages.

A “worrying” decision for the EU

This Friday, several personalities and organizations condemned the suspension of the accounts of these journalists.

It is impossible to reconcile Twitter's aspirations for freedom of expression with the purge of accounts of critical journalists 



commented in particular on the head of the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“Freedom of the press must not be turned on and off at will

,” the German Foreign Ministry denounced in a tweet.

"For this reason, we have a problem with Twitter,"

added German diplomacy.

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.


The EU has also positioned itself.

The news about the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying 

," European Commissioner Vera Jourova said on the social network.

“Elon Musk should be aware of this.

There are red lines.

And sanctions, soon."

Vera Jourova, 

European Commissioner

News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying.

EU's Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights.

This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct.

@elonmusk should be aware of that.

There are red lines.

And sanctions, soon.

— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) December 16, 2022


The EU Digital Services Act requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights.

This requirement is reinforced by our law on freedom of the media 


she concluded. 


Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application

  • Twitter

  • Elon Musk

  • Journalism

  • Media