Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: The FTC, Congress, and Advertisers Must Hold Elon Musk and Twitter Accountable, Say Progressive Groups
Press Statement

STATEMENT: The FTC, Congress, and Advertisers Must Hold Elon Musk and Twitter Accountable, Say Progressive Groups

Washington, D.C. — In his latest erratic behavior since buying Twitter, Elon Musk suspended several journalists, then abruptly reinstated some. In response, 14 groups issued the following statement:

As organizations deeply attached to democracy, to our freedom of expression, and to our fundamental rights, we cannot remain silent about Elon Musk’s reckless decision to suspend numerous journalists’ Twitter accounts. The reversal of some of these suspensions over the weekend does not diminish this attempt to silence journalists for simply doing their jobs.

Journalism is the cornerstone of free speech, and any attack on journalism is an assault on one of our fundamental pillars. While pretending to give power back to the people, Elon Musk is actually turning Twitter into an autocratic system where neo-Nazi accounts are restored while journalists’ accounts are suspended. This is a dangerous turn that raises deep concerns. Journalists doing fact-based reporting have been a critical part of Twitter’s success, and Elon Musk’s apparent disdain for journalism and fundamental rights must be rebutted with clear shows of support from throughout civil society.

If Elon Musk is as committed to freedom of expression and democracy as he states, then it is not enough to reverse his incorrect decision; he also must guarantee appropriate safeguards to protect journalists and voices of interrogation and dissent on his platform, even and especially when he is the one they may be holding accountable.

While Musk may own Twitter, we all have a role to play in ensuring accountability on the platform:

  1. All advertisers should take notice of these dangerous actions and ensure Elon Musk does not profit from dismantling one of the world’s most influential communications platforms.
  2. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should determine if any of Musk’s actions since taking over Twitter—including broken public promises around the site’s terms of service and efforts to protect users’ privacy and safety—violate the company’s existing consent decree or any other laws enforced by the commission. The commission should share those findings with the public.
  3. Congress should move quickly to hold hearings on this incident and the potential for a privately held forum for national dialogue to endanger journalism and U.S. democracy. It should also explore potential remedies.

The undersigned,

Accountable Tech
American Federation of Teachers
Center for American Progress
Common Cause
Media Matters for America
National Education Association
National Women’s Law Center
Public Citizen
Public Knowledge

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].

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