Controversial billionaire Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter who asserts that he is a defender of freedom of expression, caused a storm today, Friday, by suspending the accounts of a number of American journalists on the SMS network, and he is now facing threats from the European Union to impose sanctions on him.
"The news of the arbitrary suspension of journalists' accounts on Twitter is disturbing," said European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova, noting that the law related to digital services, which is supposed to be applied to giant technology groups next summer, "imposes respect for media freedom and fundamental rights."
"Elon Musk must realize this," she added, noting that "there are red lines and that there will be sanctions soon."
In turn, a spokesman for the European Commission, Tim McVeigh, said that banning some platforms on the Internet, such as Twitter, for user accounts or stopping them without notifying them of the reasons or giving them the right to complain is unacceptable, and that this will become something that deserves punishment when the European Regulation for Digital Services enters into force. early next year.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Terry Bretton warned Musk that Twitter had to comply with EU rules or risk fines or suspension of operations in the EU.
For its part, the German Foreign Ministry said, in a tweet today, Friday, that "the freedom of the press should not be operated and suspended according to whims."
"That's why we have a problem with Twitter," she added.
In another tweet, French Minister for Digital Transformation Jean-Noel Barrot said that he was "shocked by the way Elon Musk is pushing Twitter into the abyss," stressing that "freedom of the press is the basis of democracy, and prejudice to one means prejudice to the other."
The European Digital Services Act is the bloc's last landmark regulation, which defines the responsibilities of technology and internet companies, and comes into effect from February 2024.
The law requires companies to adjust their platforms to deal with harmful content, such as misinformation, and to implement protocols to prevent the spread of dangerous materials during crises such as the “Covid-19” pandemic.
Companies must also increase transparency regarding interactions with users and streamline user agreements.
The accounts of dozens of American journalists were suspended on Twitter, including media workers including CNN (Donnie O'Sullivan), The New York Times (Ryan Mack) and The Washington Post (Drew Harwell), as well as independent journalists.
Some of them wrote tweets about a decision taken by Twitter on Wednesday to suspend an account that automatically monitors Elon Musk's flights on his private plane.
Twitter did not mention the reason for suspending these accounts or the duration of the suspension, but the owner of the social network, which has sparked controversy several times since its purchase of the network in October, issued some references in a series of tweets published Thursday evening (Friday night).
Elon Musk wrote on Twitter, "Accounts involved in defamation will receive a temporary suspension of 7 days," noting that these rules apply "to journalists as much as anyone else."
"They published my exact, real-time whereabouts and coordinates to assassinate me, in direct (and clear) violation of Twitter's terms of service," Musk said.
Twitter's rival, Mastodon, has been suspended on the social network.
CNN condemned the "hasty and unjustified suspension of the accounts of a number of correspondents," saying it was "annoying, but not surprising."
She added, "The issue of Twitter's increasing instability and volatility is of particular concern to anyone using the platform," explaining that she "asked Twitter for an explanation," and said, "We will reassess our relationship based on this response."
New York Times spokesman Charlie Statlander said, "We hope that the accounts of all of these journalists will be reinstated, and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation."
At the beginning of this story, Elon Musk wrote on Wednesday that a “crazy stalker” tracked his car in Los Angeles while he was with his child, and he also mentioned that his private plane was also tracked, and he announced in this tweet that he would sue the person behind the now-suspended “Elon-Gate” account. .
This account was created by a student followed by about half a million people, and this account used public data to automatically indicate the time and place of takeoff and landing of the “Space-X” and “Tesla” aircraft.
Later, Twitter published a tweet confirming that most tweets that reveal the location of anyone in real time are blocked.
When Musk took over the presidency of Twitter, he promised not to harm the Elon-Gate website, but the billionaire, since buying the platform for $ 44 billion, has launched conflicting messages about what is and is not allowed.
And the ardent advocate of "great freedom of expression" - as long as the notes respected the law - reinstated accounts previously banned by the social network, including Donald Trump's.
But he also suspended Kanye West's message after posting several messages deemed anti-Semitic, and rejected the return of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' platform.