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- Věra Jourová, a European Union vice president, criticized Elon Musk’s “arbitrary” bans on journalists.
- She said that Twitter could face sanctions, citing the union’s laws on free speech.
- After Musk’s laid off thousands of staff, Twitter closed its Brussels office responsible for complying with EU laws.
A top European Union official has warned Elon Musk he could face sanctions, while criticizing his “arbitrary” suspensions of the Twitter accounts of a number of journalists.
Věra Jourová, the EU vice president for values and transparency, tweeted on Friday morning: “News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying.”
She said that Musk should be aware of the union’s laws which require “respect of media freedom and fundamental rights.”
“There are red lines. And sanctions, soon,” Jourová added.
An EU spokesperson gave Insider an explanation of the EU’s Digital Services Act, which regulates disinformation and aims to protect free speech.
It says that platforms must ensure their terms and conditions “are clear, understandable and transparent.”
But after Twitter changed its rules on Thursday, several journalists were confused as to why they were suspended.
Musk said that the reporters had shared links to the now-banned ElonJet account, which tracked the billionaire’s private jet flights.
But some say they never shared such links, like independent journalist Aaron Rupar. He told Insider’s Erin Snodgrass: “That leaves me inferring I guess it was something critical I posted of Elon.”
The act also adds that, for platforms endangering people’s safety by refusing to comply with important obligations, “it will be possible as a last resort to ask a court for a temporary suspension of their service.”
Since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has increasingly clashed with the EU, which represents 447 million people in 27 countries.
Mass layoffs last month, which saw the company’s workforce reduced by nearly 70%, led to the closure of Twitter’s office responsible for complying with EU laws.
An EU report on November 24 then condemned Twitter for removing less hate speech. Platformer then report that users could be forced to share their data with Twitter, something that may also violate the union’s laws.
Musk was also condemned by the German foreign office for suspending the journalists, while a senior government official threatened to leave the platform.
Twitter did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.