The definition of free speech on Twitter has been an issue since Elon Musk bought the social media two months ago. The European Union requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights, EU Commissioner Věra Jourová is now reminding Musk after he suspended accounts of journalists writing about him.
When Musk bought the social media he described himself as a free speech absolutist. A spokesperson for Twitter told The Verge that the suspended accounts were related to live sharing of location data.
“News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying. EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon”, Jourová tweeted.
The digital services act aims to create a safer online space for users and stricter rules for platforms. It includes the right to fine platforms that do not follow the rules. Protection of media pluralism and independence are included in the European Media Freedom Act proposed by the EU Commission.
“Many brave journalists across the world risk their life to tell the truth. Media face political and economic pressure.
We must act to protect media freedom.
I want the EU to be leading the fight for democratic values. The #MediaFreedomAct is part of this effort”, Jourová tweeted.
Musk has not commented on the suspensions of journalists’ accounts but tweeted that “criticising me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not”.
He announced that accounts engaged in doxxing (releasing private information about individuals online) will be suspended for seven days.
“Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” he tweeted. “They posted my exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.”
“If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!” he tweeted. He also latched a poll asking when he should unsuspend the suspended accounts with one alternative meaning immediately.