SPACE? Twitter spaces unavailable as its temporarily removed after journalists who were suspended were able to join to question Elon Musk KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Friday, December 16, 2022

SPACE? Twitter spaces unavailable as its temporarily removed after journalists who were suspended were able to join to question Elon Musk

Information reaching Kossyderrickent has it that Twitter spaces unavailable as its temporarily removed after journalists who were suspended were able to join to question Elon Musk.

Reporters for the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post were among those locked out of their accounts.

The UN tweeted that media freedom is "not a toy" while the EU has threatened Twitter with sanctions.

A Twitter spokesman told a US tech news website the bans were related to the live sharing of location data.Melissa Fleming, the UN's under secretary general for global communications, said she was "deeply disturbed" by reports that journalists were being "arbitrarily" suspended from Twitter.

"Media freedom is not a toy," she said. "A free press is the cornerstone of democratic societies and a key tool in the fight against harmful disinformation."

Earlier on Friday, EU commissioner Vera Jourova threatened Twitter with sanctions under Europe's new Digital Services Act which she said requires "the respect of media freedom and fundament rights".

"Elon Musk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon," she added.

Mr Musk has not commented directly on the suspensions, but said in a tweet that "criticising me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not".

He also tweeted that accounts which he claimed engaged in doxxing - a term to describe to the release of private information online about individuals - receive a temporary seven-day suspension.

"Same doxxing rules apply to 'journalists' as to everyone else," he added.

A spokesman for the New York Times called the suspensions "questionable and unfortunate".

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The suspensions come after Mr Musk vowed to sue the owner of a profile that tracks his private jet.

He said a "crazy stalker" had used live location sharing to find and accost a vehicle carrying his children in Los Angeles.

But following the suspensions, the German Foreign Office warned Twitter that "press freedom cannot be switched on and off on a whim".

Shortly before his suspension, O'Sullivan reported on Twitter that the social media company had suspended the account of an emerging competitive social media service, Mastodon, which has allowed the continued posting of @ElonJet, an account that posts the updated location of Musk's private jet.

Other reporters suspended Thursday had recently written about the account. Mr Musk took control of Twitter in October in a $44bn ($36bn) deal.

When he completed his takeover, the billionaire told advertisers he bought the site because he wanted to "try to help humanity", and for "civilisation to have a digital town square".

He has made a host of changes to its moderation practices. The moves have alarmed some civil rights groups, who have accused the billionaire of taking steps that will increase hate speech, misinformation and abuse.

Any sanctions placed on Mr Musk's business over the account suspensions could be applied under the bloc's new Digital Services Act, which was approved by the EU earlier this year.

Under the terms of the proposed new law, the EU Commission will be allowed to impose fines of up to 6% of the global turnover of a firm that it finds breaks its rules.

In extreme cases, the EU could ask a court to suspend a rogue service, but only if it is "refusing to comply with important obligations and thereby endangering people's life and safety".

Matt Binder, a journalist for Mashable and one of those suspended, said he didn't know why he had been banned.

"I've been very critical of Musk in my reporting," he told the BBC. But he said that Mr Musk's claim "that everyone that got suspended was doxxing him - due to the jet tracker", was not true.

But, in a series of sporadic tweets, Musk claimed that the journalists had violated his new "doxxing" policy by sharing his "exact real-time" location, amounting to what he described as "assassination coordinates." None of the banned journalists appeared to have shared Musk's precise real-time location.

Musk later appeared in a Twitter Spaces, hosted by a BuzzFeed reporter, and reiterated his claim that he had been doxxed.

Doxxing refers to the practice of sharing someone's home address or other personal information online. The banned account had instead used publicly available flight data, which remain online and accessible, to track Musk's jet.

The bans raise a number of questions about the future of the platform, which has been referred to as a digital town square. Musk's censorship of the journalists called into serious question Musk's supposed commitment to free speech.r

Musk has repeatedly said he would like to permit all legal speech on the platform. In April, on the same day he announced he would purchase Twitter, he had tweeted: "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."

A CNN spokesperson said the company has asked Twitter for an explanation, and it would "reevaluate our relationship based on that response."

The Washington Post's executive editor, Sally Buzbee, called for technology reporter Drew Harwell's Twitter account to be reinstated immediately. The suspension "directly undermines Elon Musk's claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech," Buzbee wrote. "Harwell was banished without warning, process or explanation, following the publication of his accurate reporting about Musk."

A New York Times spokesperson called the mass bans "questionable and unfortunate," adding: "Neither The Times nor Ryan have received any explanation about why this occurred. We hope that all of the journalists' accounts are reinstated and that Twitter provides a satisfying explanation for this action."

"Elon says he is a free speech champion and he is banning journalists for exercising free speech," Harwell told CNN on Thursday. "I think that calls into question his commitment."

Rupar, too, said he had heard "nothing" from Twitter about the suspension. Several organizations condemned Twitter's decision, with the head of the American Civil Liberties Union saying: "It's impossible to square Twitter's free speech aspirations with the purging of critical journalists' accounts."

The president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) said in a statement it was "concerned" about the suspensions, and that the move "affects all journalists."

The company hasn't explained to the journalists why it took down the accounts and made their profiles and past tweets disappear. But Musk took to Twitter Thursday night to accuse journalists of sharing private information about his whereabouts that he described as "basically assassination coordinates." He provided no evidence for that claim.

Twitter also suspended the account of Mastodon, which has emerged as an alternative to Twitter. Mastodon could not immediately be reached for comment.

CNN said in a statement that "the impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising."

"Twitter's increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses Twitter," CNN's statement added. "We have asked Twitter for an explanation, and we will reevaluate our relationship based on that response."

Another suspended journalist, Matt Binder of the technology news outlet Mashable, said he was banned Thursday night immediately after sharing a screenshot that O'Sullivan had posted before the CNN reporter's suspension.

The screenshot showed a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department sent earlier Thursday to multiple media outlets, including The Associated Press, about how it was in touch with Musk's representatives about the alleged stalking incident, but that no crime report had yet been filed.

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