He hopes that even his “worst critics will stay on Twitter,” Elon Musk announced a few months ago. But how serious is he about it?
Following international criticism, Twitter has reactivated several blocked US journalist accounts. Twitter boss Elon Musk announced the move with reference to a survey of users of the online network, in which a majority of the almost 3.7 million participants had spoken out in favor of an immediate end to the blocks.
The United Nations welcomed the move, but “serious concerns” remained. Musk should commit to making decisions based on publicly available guidelines that respect human rights, including freedom of speech, said High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.
Several of the originally blocked accounts of journalists, including the “New York Times”, the “Washington Post” and CNN, could be called up again on Saturday – but not all. The account of “Business Insider” journalist Linette Lopez was also blocked on Sunday morning (local time). Her account was suspended without explanation on Friday. She had previously reported repeatedly about the Musk-led electric car manufacturer Tesla. On Saturday evening (local time), the account of a journalist from the “Washington Post” who reports on tech topics and Musk was also blocked. During the course of Sunday he was activated again.
On Thursday evening, Twitter blocked the accounts of prominent US journalists. The Washington Post reported that the closures came without warning.
The United Nations then expressed its deep concern about the development of the online network under its new owner Musk. The federal government also criticized the closures.
Musk refers to ‘doxxing’ on lockdown
On Wednesday, Twitter blocked an account that could be used to track CEO Elon Musk’s private jet. Some of the temporarily banned journalists had reported on it, as well as Musk’s statement that he and his family had been endangered by the sharing of location data. In several tweets on Friday night, Musk wrote that the same rules apply to journalists as to everyone else.
Journalist Tony Webster, who was also affected by the lockdown, wrote on Twitter after his unlocking that there had been no “doxxing” – “even though an easily excitable, unaccountable oligarch said so”.
The Washington Post also rejected the allegations: “The Post could not find any evidence that the reporters in question had passed on information about the whereabouts of Musk or his family.”
Federal government welcomes activation
The German federal government now welcomed the activation of the accounts. Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann expressed Musk “respect” for correcting his own mistakes. “I don’t like the fact that it was voted on, because freedom of expression is the protection of minorities,” said the FDP politician.
Musk wrote a few months ago that he hopes that even his “worst critics” will stay on Twitter because that means freedom of expression. Musk now seems to be using his power in an arbitrary manner and deleting accounts that he personally disliked, wrote the New York Times. “Like William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch before him, Musk now controls an influential medium of mass media production.”
The “Washington Post” noted that after the accounts were blocked, the management of the media concerned quickly expressed criticism of Musk’s actions. But everyone – including the “Post” – continued to tweet on their official accounts. “Publishers have invested heavily in staff whose main job is to promote stories on social media (…).”
Central online service for public relations
The online service has developed into an important communication platform in recent years: governments, authorities and politicians use Twitter for their public relations work all over the world. Tech billionaire Musk took over Twitter in October and has been pushing his ideas through the online service ever since. Musk has also repeatedly taken a clear political stance, promoting the US Republicans and sharing conspiracy theories.
In November, the tech billionaire unlocked the account of former US President Donald Trump. Trump has been banned from Twitter since January 2021. On January 6, he tweeted sympathy for his supporters who stormed the seat of the US Parliament. Musk also reactivated other accounts that had violated the service’s usage rules.