Elon Musk’s X – formerly known as Twitter – is suing a hate speech watchdog that has accused its billionaire owner of overseeing a rise in abuse and disinformation on the platform.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has been a regular critic of Musk‘s stewardship since he bought the company for $44bn (£38bn) last October.
It has reported a rise in hateful language, hit out at the dropping of COVID misinformation policies, and criticised the placement of adverts next to posts from accounts like that of Andrew Tate.
The social media firm, recently renamed X, has said any policy changes are about protecting “free expression” and claims most posts are “healthy”.
In a blog post, the company accused the CCDH of making “misleading claims” in a bid to encourage advertisers to stop investing and “prevent public dialogue”.
It also claimed the group had violated its terms of service by improperly accessing data from the site.
“That’s why X has filed a legal claim against the CCDH and its backers,” the blog post added.
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The company’s lawsuit has been filed in California, according to The Washington Post, alleging the non-profit organisation “engaged in a series of unlawful acts” to “improperly gain access” to company data.
It is seeking unspecified damages.
X’s move came after the CCDH accused Musk’s team of trying to intimidate and silence the group following a report alleging his platform “fails to act on 99%” of hateful posts from accounts subscribed to its X Blue service.
CCDH chief executive Imran Ahmed said: “Elon Musk’s actions represent a brazen attempt to silence honest criticism and independent research, in the desperate hope that he can stem the tide of negative stories and rebuild his relationship with advertisers.”
Musk commented on the row on X, posting: “They should save their words for the jury.”
Over the weekend, the world’s richest man sparked controversy by reinstating the account of Kanye West.
The rapper was suspended in December after he tweeted an image of a swastika, hours after he praised Hitler and made antisemitic jokes in an interview with the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Less than a fortnight later, Musk dissolved Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, which was made up of volunteers to address such problems on the platform.