Elon Musk’s Twitter threatens to sue anti-hate group over criticism of hate speech on the site

Elon Musk and the X, or Twitter, app

Elon Musk is attempting to sue an anti-hate nonprofit group over its research which he says includes “baseless claims” that “appear calculated to harm Twitter”. 

X Corp, the parent company of Twitter (recently renamed “X”), announced in a blog post on August 1 that it had filed a lawsuit against the Centre for Countering Digital Hate for “actively working to prevent free expression”.

The suit was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, the New York Times reported.

Following his disastrous rebrand of Twitter to “X” on 23 July, which saw him change the iconic verb “retweet” to “repost”, and ditching some of the most recognisable brand identity in modern media, among many other chaotic moves, Musk is now using legal action to deflect negativity surrounding his business. 

On 20 July, in a letter to the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, which works to conduct research on social media, X Corp threatened to sue the organisation. 

According to The New York Times, the letter accused the organisation of making “a series of troubling and baseless claims that appear calculated to harm Twitter generally, and its digital advertising business specifically”. 

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The letter followed research conducted by the organisation in June 2023, consisting of eight papers, one that found Twitter had taken no action against 99 per cent of the 100 Twitter Blue accounts the centre had reported for “tweeting hate”. 

A 2023 by GLAAD found all social media companies were failing to keep LGBTQ+ safe online – but that Twitter is the most dangerous for queer communities.

Twitter recently made claims that hate speech had dropped by 30% after Elon Musk bought the company – but this was disputed by experts.

Musk’s letter claimed that the research was “false, misleading or both” and that the organisation – which he accused of being funded “in support of an ulterior agenda – “had used improper mythology”.

A worker on a crane removes letters from the Twitter sign outside its headquarters in San Francisco, California - police halted the removal of the letters shortly after
Work was halted on removing the Twitter branding from company’s HQ because no permits had been obtained. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The letter marks at least the third legal action by X Corp in the last two months, with a letter previously being sent to Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella in May, over an accusation of it improperly using its data. 

This month, Elon Musk threatened the owner of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, claiming it had copied Twitter’s trade secrets when creating new social media app, Threads. He also sued corporate law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, over what it said were unjust payments related to Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.

Linda Yaccarino, the site’s chief executive, was hired by Musk in May and said of the X rebrand that it aims to become the “platform that can deliver, well, everything… Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.” 

Her hire came amid the platform’s continual struggle, with the value of the site dropping by two thirds  since Musk took it over in October 2022. 

Since his acquisition, Musk has made several changes to the site including allowing deadnaming and misgendering, which has seen huge rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech and he has even implemented a ban on the words “cis” and “cisgender”.

The move to “X” has been marked by Musk as delicately as expected: By adding a gigantic flashing neon ‘X’ on the roof of the company’s San Francisco, with no thought of the building’s neighbours.