UN human rights chief calls on Musk to respect free speech

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Volker Türk, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is pictured in a May 29, 2015 file photo.

United Nations human rights chief Volker Türk urged Twitter CEO Elon Musk to respect users’ free speech rights in response to the suspension of a number of prominent tech journalists from the platform.

Volker Türk, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, weighed in after Musk polled users and lifted the suspensions of journalists the Twitter owner accused of “doxxing” him by reporting on an account that used publicly available data to track the billionaire’s private jet.

“Good news that journalists are being reinstated @Twitter, but serious concerns remain,” Türk wrote in a tweet on Saturday. 

“Twitter has a responsibility to respect human rights: @elonmusk should commit to making decision based on publicly-available policies that respect rights, including free speech. Nothing less,” Türk concluded. 

Musk has long championed free speech and claimed that he wanted to defend those values when he purchased Twitter, leading many to accuse him of hypocrisy over the recent suspensions. On Sunday, he announced a new policy barring users from sharing links to other social media platforms.

Türk sent an open letter to Musk last month urging him to place human rights at the center of his management of Twitter.

“Twitter is part of a global revolution that has transformed how we communicate. But I write with concern and apprehension about our digital public square and Twitter’s role in it,” Türk said in his letter. 

“Like all companies, Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them. Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform’s use and evolution.”

Controversies have plagued Twitter since Musk purchased the social media platform for $44 billion in October. Musk has fired hundreds of employees, including top executives, dissolved its board of directors, scaled back content moderation and restored the accounts of many right-wing figures banned for violating policies against abuse and hate speech.

Tags Elon Musk Elon Musk Elon Musk Twitter takeover Twitter United Nations Human Rights Council Volker Türk

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