19 Juni 2024

Vindictive Elon Musk sues non-profit research organisation that pointed out rise in hate speech on X

3 min read

Vindictive Elon Musk sues non-profit research organisation that pointed out rise in hate speech on X

Elon Musk’s X Corp, the company that owns Twitter-turned-X is suing a non-profit research centre for publishing several reports critical of X and Elon Musk’s systemic failure to control hate speech on the platform

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The company that owns Twitter, called X Corp, is taking legal action against an anti-hate organization that conducted a study and reported that hate speech is on the rise on X.

The report also claimed that Elon Musk and his team have systematically failed to take any action if X Blue Subscribers posted anything hateful.

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The allegation against CCDH
X Corp claims that the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), with offices in the US and the UK, did “unlawful acts” to get access to its data, an allegation that is quite impossible to prove, given that tweets and posts are publically available for everyone to see.

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In response, CCDH accused X Corp’s owner, Elon Musk, of trying to silence anyone who criticized him.

Elon Musk has always maintained that he strongly supports free speech, but his track record shows that he is very selective of where his actions stand.

CCDH is a non-profit organization that researches and fights against online hate. Their reports have been widely mentioned in the news, including by the BBC. A Conservative MP, Damian Collins, is on its UK board.

CCDH’s CEO, Imran Ahmed, said: “Elon Musk’s latest legal threat is like something from an authoritarian playbook – he seems determined to silence anyone who criticizes him.”

Shooting the messenger
CCDH’s research found that hate and false information were spreading rapidly on Twitter while Musk was in charge. He accused the X Corp boss of trying to “shoot the messenger.”

The legal case came after a heated exchange of letters between X Corp’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, and CCDH’s US attorney, Roberta Kaplan. Spiro’s letter focused on alleged mistakes in CCDH’s research, which CCDH denied. The case filed later by a different law firm in the US District Court for the Northern District of California made several new claims.

The lawsuit seeks damages, but the exact amount is not specified, and it says that CCDH’s critical reports cost X Corp “tens of millions of dollars” in lost advertising revenue. It should be noted that advertisers were already abandoning Twitter before the report was published, right when Elon Musk took over Twitter and fired over half of its staff.

The lawsuit also wants to reveal CCDH’s supporters, claiming they might include “foreign governments with ties to legacy media companies” once their identities are known.

CCDH’s multiple reports on Twitter
CCDH has published several critical reports about Twitter. For example, a report suggesting that Twitter “fails to act on 99%” of hateful messages from accounts with Twitter Blue subscriptions received heavy criticism in Spiro’s legal letter.

The complaint attacks CCDH’s research and methods, accusing them of intentionally and unlawfully using data from X Corp in violation of their terms of service.

The lawsuit also claims that CCDH gained “unauthorized” access to X Corp’s data through a software tool called Brandwatch, which helps monitor conversations about brands on social media. X Corp alleges that an unidentified third party improperly shared its Brandwatch login details with CCDH, enabling them to access data without authorization.

The lawsuit also alleges that CCDH’s aim was to suppress differing viewpoints they disagreed with, like those related to Covid-19 vaccines, reproductive healthcare, and climate change.