Twitter, Elon Musk, Elon Musk Twitter, Suspension Of Journalists, Backlash, UN, EU

New Delhi: Twitter CEO Elon Musk drew anger and stern warnings from the United Nations and European Union on Friday after he suspended the accounts of half a dozen prominent journalists. He accused them of endangering his family. The suspensions came after the journalists revealed the real-time location of owner Elon Musk, as reported by the news agency Reuters.

The move drew swift backlash from government officials, advocacy groups, and journalism organisations across the globe on Friday. Journalists from CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post were cut off from the social media platform without warning. This move has provoked the latest controversy since Musk took over the company on October 27.

“News about the arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying,” EU commissioner Vera Jourova posted on Twitter, warning the influential platform could face hefty fines through European laws. “Elon Musk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon,” she added.

The spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres called it a “dangerous precedent at a time when journalists all over the world are facing censorship, physical threats, and even worse.”

The latest controversy began when Musk on Wednesday suspended @elonjet, an account that tracked flights of his private jet. Talking about the move, Musk said the move was necessary after a car in Los Angeles carrying one of his children was followed by “a crazy stalker” and seemed to blame the tracking of his jet for the incident, news agency AFP reported. 

Some journalists had reported on the affair, including tweets linking to the suspended @elonjet account, which Musk said amounted to “assassination coordinates” against him and his family.

ALSO READ: Twitter Bans Accounts Of High-Profile Journalists For ‘Doxxing’: Report

In a chat hosted live on Twitter, Musk did not provide any evidence for his claim but told some of the suspended reporters that on Twitter “everyone’s going to be treated the same… they’re not special because you’re a journalist.” Pressed further on his allegations, Musk ended the conversation after being pressed further on his allegations. Twitter Spaces, the feature where the chat took place, was then suspended.

Media organizations criticised the move sharply and opened the door to re-evaluating their relationship with Twitter, which has become an essential tool for journalism over the past decade.

“The impulsive and unjustified suspension of several reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising,” the news organization said in a tweet. “Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses the platform.”

The New York Times said in a statement it also wanted answers from Twitter regarding the “questionable” suspension of journalists. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which defends the freedom of the press around the world, decried a “Kakaesque nightmare” for journalists that depend on Twitter.

Musk’s tenure as boss of Twitter has been “a disaster for the right to information”, RSF said.  The billionaire’s talk of unfettered speech has scared off major advertisers and caught the attention of regulators. CNN has reported that Twitter’s former head of trust and safety fled his home after baseless attacks on Twitter content moderation, endorsed by Musk.

(With Inputs from agencies)