EU threatens sanctions over Twitter ban on journalists


Elon Musk’s decision to suddenly ban prominent tech journalists from Twitter is sparking a backlash in Europe.

Germany warned of the impact on press freedom, while a senior EU official said Twitter must comply with bloc rules or face possible sanctions.

“Freedom of the press cannot be turned on and off as you please,” the German foreign ministry said. tweeted Friday. “As of today, these journalists can no longer follow us, comment or criticize. We have a problem with this @Twitter.

Věra Jourová, the European Commission’s vice-president for values ​​and transparency, said the “arbitrary suspension” of journalists was “worrying”, and she said the company could face penalties as a result.

“The EU Digital Services Act requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced by our #MediaFreedomAct,” Jourová said in a post on Twitteradding that Musk “should be aware of that.”

“There are red lines,” she continued. “And sanctions, soon.”

On Thursday night, Twitter banned the accounts of several high-profile journalists from major news outlets, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac and The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, without explanation.

Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to a request for comment late Thursday, and the platform did not explain specifically why the journalists were removed from the platform.

Musk falsely claimed that reporters violated his new “doxxing” policy by sharing his live location, which amounts to what he described as “assassination coordinates”. CNN’s O’Sullivan did not share the billionaire’s live location.

Shortly before his suspension, O’Sullivan reported on Twitter that the social media company had suspended the account of an emerging competitive social media service, Mastodon, which allowed the continued posting of @ElonJet, an account that displays the location of Musk’s private jet. .

Other journalists suspended Thursday had also recently written on the account.

European leaders have previously said they are monitoring the impact of Musk’s takeover of Twitter on the platform.

Thierry Breton, a senior EU official, warned Musk in late November that the social media platform needed to take significant steps to comply with the bloc’s content moderation laws.

“Twitter will need to implement transparent usage policies, significantly strengthen content moderation and protect freedom of expression, resolutely fight misinformation and limit targeted advertising,” Breton said at the time. “All of this requires sufficient AI and human resources, both in terms of volumes and skills. I look forward to making progress in all of these areas and we will be coming to assess Twitter’s readiness first hand.

— Chris Liakos, Oliver Darcy, Eve Brennan and Nadine Schmidt contributed reporting.


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