EU official: Musk could face sanctions after journalists’ suspension


European officials reprimanded Twitter and Elon Musk on Friday after the social media company abruptly suspended several American journalists.

European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová, whose dossier includes rule of law and disinformation, tweeted that “the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is concerning”.

“The EU Digital Services Act requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced by our #MediaFreedomAct,” she wrote. “@elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”

Twitter on Thursday night suspended the accounts of several journalists, including the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN. Musk then accused the reporters of publishing “essentially assassination coordinates” for him and his family – although he offered no evidence that any of the reporters had done so.

On December 15, Twitter CEO Elon Musk joined a Twitter Spaces chat with several reporters in which he reiterated his claim that they had “doxed” him. (Video: The Washington Post)

The suspensions came a day after Twitter changed its rules to prohibit the sharing of “live location information” or other information that could show someone’s location. The rule change came after Twitter suspended @ElonJet’s accountwho tracked the flights of Musk’s private plane using publicly available flight data.

Several journalists who covered and tweeted about the rule change and Musk’s claims were later banned from their accounts.

Musk bans Twitter account tracking his plane and threatens to sue its creator

The European Union Digital Services Act seeks to force tech companies to more aggressively monitor their platforms for illegal content and to be more transparent about how their content moderation systems work. Companies will have to start reporting some information early next year, but The legislation does not come into full force until 2024.

The EU has often imposed stricter rules and cracked down on tech companies harder than other governments. The DSA is considered one of the most extensive regulations on social media to date. Musk met with Thierry Breton, the bloc’s internal markets commissioner, to prepare Twitter for the law.

But the billionaire also has dismantled much of Twitter’s trust and safety teamwho contributed to the development and application of the rules that users must follow on the site.

On Friday, further criticism came from the German Foreign Ministry, which took to Twitter to warn the company that it takes press freedom seriously.

“Freedom of the press should not be turned on and off at will,” he tweeted. “As of today, the journalists below can no longer follow us, comment on us or criticize us. We have a problem with this @Twitter.

Musk took over Twitter in a $44 billion deal in late October, pledging to make the site a haven for “free speech,” much to the delight of some right-wing politicians and pundits who have accused social media companies, often unsubstantiated, to censor them in recent years.

Musk’s short time at the helm of the company has been marked by upheaval. He has gutted Twitter’s workforce, dissolved an outside trust and security council and reinstated many banned accounts, including that of former President Donald Trump.

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