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16 Dec, 2022 13:52

EU threatens Elon Musk with sanctions

The billionaire and his platform could face punishment for violating media freedom rights, the bloc warns
EU threatens Elon Musk with sanctions

The EU has warned Elon Musk that Twitter could be targeted by sanctions after the platform owned by the entrepreneur suspended several journalists for allegedly sharing real-time location data about the billionaire and his family.

“News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying,” wrote EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova in a tweet on Friday. “EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights,” she said, adding that these rights are reinforced under the recently adopted European Media Freedom Act.

“[Elon Musk] should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon,” Jourova warned, as the Digital Services Act is set to start coming into force next summer and will be fully implemented by 2024.

Her threats come after Twitter suspended around half-a-dozen journalists on Thursday who reported and shared links to the @ElonJet handle, which provided real-time tracking of Musk’s personal flights.

Musk has explained the decision by stating that the information being shared was “basically assassination coordinates” and pointed to Twitter's terms of service, which prohibit doxxing – the illegal publishing of personal information – of anyone by anyone. “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” the billionaire wrote on Thursday.

Twitter has previously suspended the original @elonjet account, as well as other similar flight-tracking channels owned by Florida student Jack Sweeney, who had been posting real-time data on private flights of the world’s wealthiest men, including Musk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Musk – a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” – purchased Twitter for $44 billion in late October. Back then he initially promised not to suspend any accounts that were exercising free speech, noting that that extended “even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.”