Elon Musk’s X Corp, formerly Twitter, has filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) after it published research in June saying X allowed explicitly racist and homophobic posts.
CCDH’s research article went on to say that X allowed the posts despite policies against those types of posts, and that the posts persisted after being reported.
X forged ahead with the legal action after threatening to sue yesterday. In the lawsuit, X accused the anti-hate group of illegally scraping its servers and cherry-picking posts to generate a “scare campaign to drive away advertisers.” X is seeking unspecified monetary damages from the CCDH as well as an injunction barring the group from accessing its data.
Musk’s company also published a blog post titled “Protecting the public’s right to free expression” about its decision to sue the CCDH, in which X claimed it reduced hateful content viewed on the platform and accused the CCDH of making misleading claims:
“Despite our continued progress, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and its backers have been actively working to assert false and misleading claims encouraging advertisers to pause investment on the platform. X is a free public service funded largely by advertisers. Through the CCDH’s scare campaign and its ongoing pressure on brands to prevent the public’s access to free expression, the CCDH is actively working to prevent public dialogue.”
X also accused the CCDH of targeting and attempting to deplatform those who speak about issues it doesn’t agree with. Previously, X also claimed the CCDH was taking funding from competitors or foreign governments and that it had an ulterior motive.
In a letter to X published by the CCDH this morning, the anti-hate group said X didn’t cite any facts to back up its allegations and accused the company of trying to intimidate the group:
“These allegations not only have no basis in fact (your letter states none), but they represent a disturbing effort to intimidate those who have the courage to advocate against incitement, hate speech and harmful content online, to conduct research and analysis regarding the drivers of such disinformation, and to publicly release the findings of that research, even when the findings may be critical of certain platforms.”
In a tweet, the CCDH said that “platforms must be held accountable for spreading hate & lies.”
Musk can’t have it both ways. He is happy to allow neo-Nazis back on Twitter, but throws a tantrum when independent researchers expose the scale of toxicity on his platform.
— Center for Countering Digital Hate (@CCDHate) August 1, 2023
None of the allegations have been proven in court. It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out, given that since Musk’s takeover of Twitter/X, there has been repeated evidence linking the platform to a rise in hate. For example, in July the company was caught once again serving ads next to neo-Nazi content. Moreover, in April, X removed rules intended to protect transgender users.