Culture

Musk restores journalists’ accounts, comeback in 3 acts amid international outcry

► Act I: Elon Musk suspends the accounts of journalists who criticize him

Did Elon Musk cross the red line? Without warning or explanation, Twitter suspended “for 7 days” Thursday, December 15 the accounts of several journalists who covered the social network.

Some had criticized the day before the decision of its new owner Elon Musk to suspend the ElonJet account which automatically reported the journeys of his private jet. This practice of “doxing”, consisting in disclosing personal information, from public data, is however legal.

Among the suspended journalists are employees of media like CNN, the New York Times or even the washington postand independent journalists. “The impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters is worrying but not surprising”reacted in particular to the American channel CNN. “Twitter’s growing instability and volatility is concerning to anyone using the platform. We’ve asked Twitter for an explanation, and we’ll reassess our relationship based on that response.”.

“Everyone will be treated the same”, he said in an audio conversation organized live on Twitter on Friday, indicating that there would be no free pass for journalists. Without further explanation, the account of Mastodon, competitor of the social network, was also suspended.

► Act II: indignant reactions, from the European Commission to the UN

The United Nations immediately denounced the suspension of these accounts by Elon Musk, who proclaims himself a defender of freedom of expression. “The decision sets a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists everywhere are facing censorship, physical threats and even worse”said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

On the other side of the Atlantic, several European commissioners reacted. Vice-President of the European Commission Vera Jourova, on the initiative of the Media Fredom Act currently under discussion, recalled that there was “red lines” not to cross, threatening Elon Musk “sanctions, soon” in a tweet.

The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), also reacted immediately, calling on Twitter to immediately restore the accounts of the journalists concerned, judging that “the arbitrariness of the big platforms” represented a “major danger to democracy”. For Christophe Deloire, its general secretary, “We need to regain democratic control so that platforms stop subjugating democracies and citizens to their whims and interests. Before it’s too late “.

► Act III: after an online vote, Twitter restores suspended accounts

Late Friday evening, Elon Musk announced that he would restore the suspended accounts of several journalists on this social network. “People have spoken. Accounts that posted my location will have their suspension lifted.”, tweeted the billionaire, who had launched a poll on Twitter to ask if he should restore the suspended accounts now or in a week. Nearly 59% of the 3.69 million Internet users voted for the first option.

This new controversy has revived concerns about the autocratic and erratic management of the social network by the billionaire. Twitter could not be condemned in the United States for having suspended the accounts of journalists, explains Florence G’sell, teacher at Science-Po, in a article entitled “Could Twitter be sanctioned for its moderation practices? “. But it could soon be in Europe, when the directives on digital services will be applied at the end of 2023, and as of today in France in application in particular of the law of August 24, 2021 “consolidating respect for the principles of the Republic”, some articles of which anticipate the European text.

This text in particular that decisions to remove content by platforms must be “motivated, proportionate and justified by repeated abuses, the gravity and consequences of which must be established”.

Source : BBN NEWS

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