Elon Musk’s first weeks managing Twitter were incredibly chaotic, and it looks like things aren’t going to improve anytime soon. The CEO arbitrarily banned several prominent journalists from Twitter on Thursday after they reported on his decision to ban a Twitter account that was following his private jets. Moreover, Elon Musk then shut down Twitter Spaces after a discussion with journalists about his earlier ban.
Such actions won’t go unnoticed, especially the ban on journalists reporting the news. The European Union (EU), often at the forefront of new tech policy, has warned Musk about the entire affair.
Věra Jourová is the EU’s vice president for values and transparency. She took to Twitter (where else?) to express concern over Musk’s actions. The high-ranking official also warned about red lines and promised sanctions.
“News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying. EU’s Digital Services Act [DSA] requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights,” the commissioner said on Twitter. “This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”
Per TechCrunch, the EU’s new DSA regulation has requirements in place for providers of intermediary services. They should not act arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner with their terms of service. Moreover, they should respect fundamental rights, including freedom of expression of information, and media freedom, and pluralism.
Failing to abide by the DSA regulations could lead to penalties that can go as high as 6% of a company’s global annual revenue. The EU can also impose corrective measures.
It’s unclear how soon the EU can impose any measures against Elon Musk’s Twitter. Or what they would be. And Elon Musk is already backtracking on the ban, as he announced that the journalists’ Twitter accounts would be reinstated in seven days, calling it a temporary suspension.
Removing the ban won’t make Elon Musk’s EU troubles go away, however. And it’s likely that regulators in other jurisdictions will not take kindly to Musk’s ban on journalists. The Twitter ban scandal is far from over, and it could turn out to be one of Musk’s biggest fumbles since he took over the social network.