Journalism groups brand Musk’s Twitter deal ‘bad news’ for media freedom

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Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk ... the Twitter takeover means the company with more than 400 million users will be now owned by one single person instead of multiple shareholders. Image: TheParadise.ng

Pacific Media Watch newsdesk

Groups representing journalists around the world have expressed concern that billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s move to buy Twitter would damage media freedoms on the online platform.

Musk, who has reached a $44 billion deal for Twitter, describes himself as a “free speech absolutist” who would encourage no holds barred exchanges between the network’s 400 million users.

But the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists said his move would place too much power in the hands of one owner and could harm efforts to curtail bullying and disinformation on the site, reports The Jakarta Post citing AFP.

“Twitter is an extension of journalists’ offices. This is where journalists promote their work, express ideas or find sources of information,” said IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger.

“This space must be duly moderated, while respecting freedom of speech. It is a fine balance that any Twitter owner must pay attention to” he said.

“We are concerned that Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter are going the wrong direction by exacerbating opportunities to attack journalists and threatening the anonymity of users.”

Musk has said that he wishes to expand Twitter’s user verification system to “authenticate all humans”.

Raising fears among vulnerable groups
This might curtail some anonymous abuse on the platform, but will raise fears among vulnerable groups who prefer to keep their identities secret.

The purchase of Twitter by Musk means the company is now owned by one single person instead of multiple shareholders.

EFJ general secretary Ricardo Guitterez said: “The billionaire has never hesitated in the past to use Twitter to manipulate information, influence stock prices and control media coverage of his own business.

“We have every reason to believe that he will tighten his grip on the social network for his own benefit, with no regard for the public interest.

“It is high time to regulate the ownership of media and social networks in order to counteract a concentration of power that is harmful to pluralism, public debate and democracy”

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