Groups representing journalists around the world expressed concern on Tuesday 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.
“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”. This might curtail some anonymous abuse on the platform, but will raise fears among vulnerable groups who prefer to keep their identities secret.