The United Nations and the European Union have condemned Twitter’s decision to suspend the accounts of several journalists who published live location information about Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s private jet.
The suspended accounts included journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN. The suspensions were part of Musk’s attempt to erase references or links to the now-suspended ElonJet account that data from ADS-B Exchange to track Musk’s private jet.
Musk tweeted that the “same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else” and that the suspended journalists had posted his “exact real-time location, basically assassination coordinates, in (obvious) direct violation of Twitter terms of service.”
Same doxxing rules apply to “journalists” as to everyone else
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the UN was “very disturbed by the arbitrary suspension of accounts of journalists.”
On Friday, EU commissioner Vera Jourova said that EU law “requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights,” threatening “sanctions, soon.”
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.
— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) December 16, 2022
The comments are a bizarre pivot from previous comments made by Jourova during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a 2020 interview regarding the “prevalence of misleading news on COVID-19 and the attempts by foreign actors to influence Europe,” Jourova said that Facebook, Google and Twitter should provide monthly reports with details on their actions to promote authoritative content and to limit coronavirus disinformation and advertising related to it.
EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell described the fake news fight as involving warriors wielding keyboards rather than swords.
— Int’l Telecommunication Union (@ITU) April 17, 2020
Excerpts from the Twitter Files Part 6 show that law enforcement agencies such as the FBI have also been colluding with Twitter executives to censor accounts.
Matt Taibbi, who released the 6th installment of the Twitter Files, said that between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.
A surprisingly high number of emails from the FBI were for Twitter to take action on election misinformation, even involving joke tweets from low-follower accounts.
Taibbi said that agencies like the FBI and DHS would regularly send social media content to Twitter through multiple entry points, pre-flagged for moderation. Even accounts with clearly satirical content were flagged for suspension.