STR | Nurphoto | Getty Images
The European Union threatened sanctions on tech billionaire Elon Musk on Friday after Twitter removed several journalists who had covered him and the social media company.
Vera Jourova, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said in a tweet that the news of the “arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter was disturbing”.
Late Thursday, Twitter abruptly suspended several high-profile journalists who covered him, including CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan and Ryan Mac, a reporter for the New York Times.
He suggested that these journalists violated Twitter’s policy on “doxxing,” or disclosing an individual’s identifiable information.
It comes after the @ElonJet account, which tracked the location of Musk’s private jet using publicly available flight data, was banned from Twitter.
Musk is now threatening possible EU sanctions.
“The EU law on digital services requires respect for media freedom and fundamental rights,” said Jourova. “This is reinforced by our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that.”
“There are red lines. And soon sanctions,” she added.
Jourova did not add any further details on the sanctions. Under the EU’s Digital Services Act, companies can be fined up to 6% of their annual global turnover for violations.
The DSA, which took effect on 11/16, requires major platforms to reduce online harm, implement protections for users’ rights, and issue transparency reports.
Big tech platforms must report the number of their active end-users to the Commission by February 2023. They then have up to four months after the block finishes verifying the numbers to comply with the rules.
Musk has been Twitter’s CEO since October after buying the company for $44 billion.
That Tesla and the SpaceX boss, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” has alarmed politicians and civil rights activists with steps to restore the accounts of suspended users, including former US President Donald Trump, and the firing of thousands of Twitter employees.