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RSF Condemns Musk Twitter Suspensions

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FILE: Twitter app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022.

UPDATED WITH UN GUTERRES COMMENTS; Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sharply criticized the "arbitrary" way Elon Musk is running Twitter after several journalists were suspended from the platform.

Journalists from the Voice of America, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post were among those cut off from the platform without warning on Friday after tweeting about the removal of another account, @elonjet, that tracked the flights of his private jet.

"Twitter's decision to ban the accounts of several journalists proves that the arbitrary way the leading online platforms are run poses a major threat to democracy," RSF said in a statement.

The France-based NGO said some of the journalists did nothing more than criticise Musk's actions, despite his claims that they were helping people to track and endanger his family.

"We are drowning in a Kafkaesque nightmare," said RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire.

"We demand the immediate reinstatement of these journalists' accounts. Such arbitrary behaviour by the platforms has gone on long enough. We must recover democratic control over the platforms before they completely subject democracies to their caprices and it is too late."

RSF, which defends the freedom of the press around the world, said Musk's tenure as boss of Twitter since November has been "a disaster for the right to information".

"The censorship of journalists and the creation of new rules to accommodate the boss's caprices are not the hallmarks of a healthy online information space," it said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Friday declared himself "very disturbed" by Elon Musk's suspension of journalists from Twitter, calling it a "dangerous precedent."

"Media voices should not be silenced on a platform that professes to be a space for freedom of speech," said Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

He warned the "arbitrary" move "sets a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists all over the world are facing censorship, physical threats and even even worse."

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