Update: Elon Musk has agreed to restore the journalists’ accounts, over some conditions. More info here.
Senior European politicians have threatened Elon Musk, Twitter owner, of future sanctions and lawmakers leaving the platform.
They are protesting against Musk’s move of suspending journalists from the platform.
The company suspended the accounts of several prominent journalists such as those from the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times.
Musk alleged they were endangering his family and that those suspended were people who had posted his real-time location, describing the information as “basically assassination coordinates.“
Upcoming legislation to prevent this
“News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying,” said Commission Vice President Vera Jourova in a tweet. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”
Jourova — one of the EU’s more senior officials — cited the Digital Services Act and the Media Freedom Act, two major pillars of European tech regulation.
The DSA is the EU’s content moderation rulebook which would ban arbitrary suspensions of accounts.
According to this, companies like Twitter first have to report the number of users they have in the EU in February.
The German Foreign Ministry also expressed concern, stating, “Press Freedom must not be switched on and off at will. As of today, the journalists listed below can also no longer follow, comment or criticize us. This means we have a problem Twitter.”
The social media site has drawn criticism from the German government since Musk’s purchase, which is observing Twitter “with growing concern.”
The French minister in charge of industry Roland Lescure tweeted that “Following the suspension of journalists’ accounts by Elon Musk, I am suspending all activity on Twitter until further notice”.
French digital minister Jean-Noel Barrot tweeted he was “distressed by the drift in which Elon Musk precipitates Twitter”.
Even though Europe currently has little power to rein in Musk for his actions, he will soon have to face a litany of new rules for how he handles posts under the DSA, which will require platforms to take down illegal content and take more action against harmful content.
What the new rules require
He will also have to have content moderators to handle content in different EU languages.
Under the incoming EU rules, user accounts may be restricted or blocked.
Account holders have to be able to appeal the decision.