UNITED STATES NEWS

Musk threatens to sue researchers who documented the rise in hateful tweets

Jul 31, 2023, 8:33 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has threatened to sue a group of independent researchers whose research documented an increase in hate speech on the site since it was purchased last year by Elon Musk.

An attorney representing the social media site wrote to the Center for Countering Digital Hate on July 20 threatening legal action over the nonprofit’s research into hate speech and content moderation. The letter alleged that CCDH’s research publications seem intended “to harm Twitter’s business by driving advertisers away from the platform with incendiary claims.”

Musk is a self-professed free speech absolutist who has welcomed back white supremacists and election deniers to the platform, which he renamed X earlier this month. But the billionaire has at times proven sensitive about critical speech directed at him or his companies.

The center is a nonprofit with offices in the U.S. and United Kingdom. It regularly publishes reports on hate speech, extremism or harmful behavior on social media platforms like X, TikTok or Facebook.

The organization has published several reports critical of Musk’s leadership, detailing an increase in anti-LGBTQ hate speech as well as climate misinformation since his purchase. The letter from X’s attorney cited one specific report from June that found the platform failed to remove neo-Nazi and anti-LGBTQ content from verified users that violated the platform’s rules.

In the letter, attorney Alex Spiro questioned the expertise of the researchers and accused the center of trying to harm X’s reputation. The letter also suggested, without evidence, that the center received funds from some of X’s competitors, even though the center has also published critical reports about TikTok, Facebook and other large platforms.

“CCDH intends to harm Twitter’s business by driving advertisers away from the platform with incendiary claims,” Spiro wrote, using the platform’s former name.

Imran Ahmed, the center’s founder and CEO, told the AP on Monday that his group has never received a similar response from any tech company, despite a history of studying the relationship between social media, hate speech and extremism. He said that typically, the targets of the center’s criticism have responded by defending their work or promising to address any problems that have been identified.

Ahmed said he worried X’s response to the center’s work could have a chilling effect if it frightens other researchers away from studying the platform. He said he also worried that other industries could take note of the strategy.

“This is an unprecedented escalation by a social media company against independent researchers. Musk has just declared open war,” Ahmed told the Associated Press. “If Musk succeeds in silencing us other researchers will be next in line.”

Messages left with Spiro and X were not immediately returned Monday.

It’s not the first time that Musk has fired back at critics. Last year, he suspended the accounts of several journalists who covered his takeover of Twitter. Another user was permanently banned for using publicly available flight data to track Musk’s private plane; Musk had initially pledged to keep the user on the platform but later changed his mind, citing his personal safety. He also threatened to sue the user.

He initially had promised that he would allow any speech on his platform that wasn’t illegal. “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means,” Musk wrote in a tweet last year.

X’s recent threat of a lawsuit prompted concern from U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who said the billionaire was trying to use the threat of legal action to punish a nonprofit group trying to hold a powerful social media platform accountable.

“Instead of attacking them, he should be attacking the increasingly disturbing content on Twitter,” Schiff said in a statement.

United States News

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs poses in Los Angeles, Monday, July 15, 2024. Tubbs says he is r...

Associated Press

Former mayor known for guaranteed income programs launches bid for California lieutenant governor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Michael Tubbs is running for lieutenant governor of California, returning to politics four years after voters in his Central Valley hometown ousted him as one of the country’s youngest mayors following his reboot of guaranteed income programs for the poor that made him a star. The 2026 campaign, announced Wednesday, offers […]

20 minutes ago

FILE - A logging truck drives on the Interstate 5 bridge that spans the Columbia River and connects...

Associated Press

Aging bridges in 16 states will be improved or replaced with the help of $5B in federal funding

Dozens of aging bridges in 16 states will be replaced or improved with the help of $5 billion in federal grants announced Wednesday by President Joe Biden’s administration, the latest beneficiaries of a massive infrastructure law. The projects range from coast to coast, with the largest providing an additional $1.4 billion to help replace two […]

1 hour ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a 2024 Prosperity Summit Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in North Las Vegas, ...

Associated Press

Biden aims to cut through voter disenchantment as he courts Latino voters at Las Vegas conference

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Joe Biden is trying to shore up support among disenchanted voters key to his reelection chances as he meets Wednesday with members of a Latino civil rights organization in the battleground state of Nevada. Biden is set to deliver an address to the UnidosUS annual conference in Las Vegas, where […]

1 hour ago

FILE - The Mirage Hotel and Casino is seen in Las Vegas, on May 3, 2018. Gambling ends Wednesday, J...

Associated Press

After reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage to be reinvented as part of a massive Hard Rock makeover

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Mirage is about to vanish from the Las Vegas Strip. Gambling ends and the doors close Wednesday at the iconic tropical island-themed hotel-casino that opened in 1989 with a fire-spewing volcano outside, and Siegfried & Roy’s lions and dolphins inside. Frenzied final days have seen standing-room crowds wagering to win […]

5 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

The stepped-up security around Trump is apparent, with agents walling him off from RNC crowds

MILWAUKEE (AP) — On the floor of the Republican National Convention Tuesday evening, vice presidential candidate JD Vance greeted and shook hands with excited delegates as he walked toward his seat. It was a marked contrast from former President Donald Trump, who entered the hall a few minutes later and was separated from supporters by […]

6 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Sponsored Content by

MILWAUKEE (AP) — On the floor of the Republican National Convention Tuesday evening, vice presidential candidate JD Vance greeted and shook hands with excited delegates as he walked toward his seat. It was a marked contrast from former President Donald Trump, who entered the hall a few minutes later and was separated from supporters by […]

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Musk threatens to sue researchers who documented the rise in hateful tweets