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Musk Threatens to Sue Academics Who Recorded an Increase in Hateful tweets

By 07/31/2023 6:50 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff


The social media network X, formerly known as Twitter, has threatened legal action against a team of independent researchers who have discovered an upsurge in hate speech on the platform since Elon Musk bought it last year.

On July 20, a lawyer for the social media platform sent a letter threatening legal action to the Center for Countering Digital Hate about the nonprofit’s investigation into hate speech and content moderation.

According to the letter, CCDH’s research reports appear to be designed “to harm Twitter’s business by driving advertisers away from the platform with incendiary claims.

White nationalists and election skeptics have been invited back to the platform, which Musk rebranded X earlier this month.

Musk is a self-described free-speech absolutist. However, the billionaire has occasionally shown signs of being sensitive to criticism of him or his businesses.

The center is a nonprofit organization with locations in the US and the UK. It frequently releases reports on hate speech, radicalism, or negative conduct on websites like X, TikTok, or Facebook.

The group has released a number of reports criticizing Musk’s management, outlining an uptick in anti-LGBTQ hate speech and climate misinformation since his acquisition.

The letter from X’s lawyer mentioned a particular investigation from June that claimed the platform failed to remove content from verified users that violated the network’s policies and was neo-Nazi and anti-LGBTQ.

In the letter, lawyer Alex Spiro questioned the researchers’ knowledge and charged the center with attempting to damage X’s reputation. The center has published critical findings on TikTok, Facebook, and other major platforms, but the letter also implied—without providing any proof—that the center receives funding from some of X’s rivals.

The platform’s former moniker, Twitter, was used by Spiro in his article. “CCDH intends to harm Twitter’s business by driving advertisers away from the platform with incendiary claims,” Spiro wrote.

Imran Ahmed, the center’s founder and CEO, told the AP on Monday that despite a history of researching the connection between social media, hate speech, and extremism, his organization has never encountered a similar response from a digital corporation.

According to him, those who have been criticized by the center have often responded by defending their work or pledging to fix any issues that have been found.

Ahmed expressed concern that X’s response to the center’s work would freeze research on the platform if it scared off other researchers. He added that he was concerned about the technique being copied by other sectors of the economy.

A social media company’s escalation against independent researchers is unprecedented. The Associated Press was informed by Ahmed that Musk had just declared open war.

“Other researchers will be next in line if Musk succeeds in silencing us,” said Musk. Spiro and X did not immediately respond to messages on Monday.

It’s not the first time Musk has responded to detractors. He suspended the Twitter accounts of numerous journalists who wrote about his takeover of Twitter last year.

Musk had first promised to keep the user on the platform but subsequently changed his mind, citing his personal safety.

Another user was suspended for utilizing publicly available flight data to monitor Musk’s private plane.

Before allowing the user to return to the platform with some restrictions, he also threatened to sue the user.

Initially, he stated that he would permit any non-illegal speech on his platform. In a post from last year, Musk stated, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free expression means.

The recent threat of legal action by X alarms the United States. Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, claimed that the billionaire was attempting to penalize a nonprofit organization by threatening legal action against a potent social media site.

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


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