Twitter: Elon Musk suspends journalists from network, removes Spaces and causes chaos

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A dozen American journalists were suspended from the social network. Among them are media workers such as CNN (Donie O’Sullivan), New York Times (Ryan Mac), Washington Post (Drew Harwell) and independent journalists.

Self-proclaimed defender of freedom of expression, controversial billionaire Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, caused an uproar on Friday, December 16 and was threatened with sanctions by the European Union for suspending the accounts of some American journalist.

Describing this decision as “worrying”, the Vice-President of the European Commission Vera Jourova recalled that there are “red lines” that should not be crossed, threatening Elon Musk in a tweet “of sanctions , as soon as possible”. “Freedom of the press should not be turned on and off at will,” the German Foreign Ministry denounced in a tweet, adding that “for this reason we have a problem with Twitter”.

The news about the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is alarming. The EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights. It is strengthened under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And penalties, soon.

— Vera Jourova (@VeraJourova) December 16, 2022

For its part, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for the return of the accounts of the journalists concerned, considering that “the arbitrariness of the main platforms” represents a “major danger for democracy”, and called for “regaining control before ( . ..) it’s not too late”.

A dozen American journalists were suspended from the social network. Among them are media workers such as CNN (Donie O’Sullivan), New York Times (Ryan Mac), Washington Post (Drew Harwell) and independent journalists. Some tweeted about Twitter’s decision Wednesday to suspend the account that automatically reported Elon Musk’s private jet rides.

The latter accused them of endangering his safety and that of his family. He claimed in a tweet on Wednesday that a car with one of his children on board had been tracked in Los Angeles by “a crazy stalker”, appearing to create a causal link with the real-time positioning of his jet.

“Temporary Suspension”

Twitter did not say why these accounts were suspended. The owner of the social network, a source of much controversy since he bought it in October, however gave some indication. “Everyone will be treated the same,” he said in an audio conversation arranged live on Twitter this Friday, indicating that there would be no privileges for journalists. Relaunched on the topic, Elon Musk left the discussion. He then deactivated the Twitter Spaces audio chat service, citing a “technical problem”.

In a tweet published overnight from Thursday to Friday, Elon Musk announced a seven-day temporary suspension for “accounts involved in doxing”. The term “doxing” means the public disclosure of personal information about an individual on the Internet without their consent. “They posted my exact real-time location, literally the coordinates of the assassination, in direct (and obvious) violation of Twitter’s terms of service,” Musk said.

Also read:
Twitter: the social network suspended the account that tracked the routes of Elon Musk’s private jet

The Twitter account of Mastodon, a competitor of the social network, was also suspended. “The impulsive and unwarranted suspension of a number of reporters like CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan is disturbing but not surprising,” CNN said in a statement.

“Twitter’s growing instability and volatility is of particular concern to anyone who uses the platform. We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will re-evaluate our relationship based on that response,” CNN added. “We hope that the accounts of all these journalists will be restored and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation,” said New York Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander.


After the tracked vehicle incident involving his son, Elon Musk announced in this tweet that he will be suing the person behind the now-suspended @ElonJet account. Created by a student and followed by around 500,000 people, @ElonJet used public data to automatically indicate when and where the SpaceX and Tesla boss’ device took off and landed. Twitter later announced that its policy now banned most tweets that show a person’s location in real time.

When he came to the head of Twitter, Elon Musk promised that he would not touch the @ElonJet account. Since acquiring the platform for $44 billion, the billionaire has sent mixed messages about what is and isn’t allowed on it.

Passionate defender of a great freedom of expression – as long as the statements respect the law – he returned the accounts previously banned by the social network, including that of Donald Trump. But he also suspended Kanye West’s after the publication of several messages deemed anti-Semitic and denied the return to the platform of the far-right conspirator, Alex Jones.

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