New York, December 16, 2022—Twitter should immediately reinstate the journalists whose accounts it suspended without notice and explicitly commit to practices that defend a free and independent media, Jodie Ginsberg, president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement Friday.
Responding to news reports that Twitter had suspended the accounts of at least six U.S.-based journalists who cover the platform, Ginsberg said: “We are deeply alarmed by Twitter’s seemingly arbitrary suspension of reporters. If Twitter owner Elon Musk truly wants to foster a platform that allows free speech for all, it makes no sense to remove journalists from the platform. If confirmed as retaliation for their work, this would be a serious violation of journalists’ right to report the news without fear of reprisal. Twitter should immediately restore these reporters’ accounts.”
Ginsberg added that Twitter users often cite access to news and information about current affairs – particularly on local issues like road closures, weather warnings, and health crises – as one of their prime reasons for using the platform. “Casting doubt on journalists’ credibility not only creates a hostile environment that could put them in physical danger, it also threatens the public’s right to access important information about events that affect our everyday lives,” she said.
Those suspended included reporters for The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America and other publications, according to the same reports.
News of the suspension has generated a global outcry, with Vera Jourova, European Commission vice president, tweeting that the EU’s Digital Services and Media Freedom acts required “respect” of media freedom. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon,” she said.
In a post that asked his followers to adjudicate the duration of the suspension, Musk said on Twitter that the reporters had “doxxed [his] exact location in real-time,” violating the platform’s new rules on posting publicly available data showing the flight path of private jets. A handful of Twitter accounts, including one that tracked the flight patterns of Musk’s aircraft, were shuttered this week.
Some of the journalists whose accounts were suspended had posted about the new policy, but at least one told The Associated Press that he had not shared location data.
The development follows the abrupt dissolution on Monday of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group to improve platform safety and address issues like hate speech. CPJ, which was a member of the group, has not received a response to its email asking Twitter for comment on the suspensions.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal. www.cpj.org