Elon Musk is threatening to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a prominent Jewish civil rights organization. The billionaire owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, claims that the ADL’s calls for advertisers to stop spending on the platform were based on false accusations that have financially harmed the company. This legal action raises questions about how it will affect Meta’s stock value.
Musk stated that he had no other choice but to sue the ADL in order to “clear our platform’s name on the matter of anti-Semitism.” Additionally, financial considerations come into play as Fidelity, which helped finance Musk’s takeover of X, is holding its shares at a 58% discount, indicating a decrease in the social media platform’s value to potentially less than $20 billion.
Musk tweeted, “Based on what we’ve heard from advertisers, ADL seems to be responsible for most of our revenue loss. Giving them the maximum benefit of the doubt, I don’t see any scenario where they’re responsible for less than 10% of the value destruction, so around $4 billion.” He later suggested that the impact could be as high as $22 billion.
Although a “giant data dump” of the ADL’s communication with advertisers is forthcoming, it may take until next week due to a lack of staff at X. While Musk has intensified his rhetoric over the Labor Day holiday weekend, his feud with the ADL and other anti-hate groups has been simmering for nearly a year.
Here is a brief timeline of antisemitism on X since Musk took over:
- In 2012, the ADL highlighted the propagation of antisemitic tweets under the “A good Jew” hashtag.
- In 2014, the ADL observed a surge of antisemitic messages in Spain following the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team’s victory over Real Madrid.
- In October 2022, after Musk acquired Twitter, he faced challenges regarding antisemitic content on the platform.
- In January 2023, a lawsuit was filed in Germany accusing the platform of mishandling Holocaust denial.
- In February 2023, the Center for Countering Digital Hate revealed that Twitter could earn $19 million annually from ads on just 10 reinstated toxic accounts.
- In April 2023, Germany threatened to fine X €50 million per case for failing to act on antisemitic speech takedown requests.
- In May 2023, Musk baselessly posted that billionaire George Soros “hates humanity,” a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories.
- In May 2023, the ADL published a report disclosing thousands of examples of virulent antisemitism on Twitter after accounts were reinstated under Musk’s direction.
- In June 2023, Musk boosted an antisemitic tweet from an account that promotes QAnon conspiracy theories and hate speech.
- In August 2023, ADL director Jonathan Greenblatt shared a post stating that X CEO Linda Yaccarino had a conversation about effectively addressing hate on the platform.
- In September 2023, Musk liked posts with the #BanTheADL hashtag and announced his intentions to sue the ADL for defamation.
This issue is not limited to the ADL; Musk has also clashed with the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). In June, the CCDH accused Twitter of not taking action on 99% of hate posts by premium users and claimed that the platform’s algorithm boosts toxic tweets. In response, Musk’s company sued CCDH. It appears that Musk is now taking a similar path against the ADL, criticizing the organization and accusing it of falsely accusing him and X of being anti-Semitic since the acquisition.
It is worth noting that Musk has made some statements about X’s future. He mentioned that permanent bans on the platform will be rare going forward and that takedown requests from organizations may be made public and subject to a vote. Additionally, X will soon implement a feature that allows only verified users to participate in polls, as Musk believes this will help prevent bot attacks. However, considering that Twitter has verified AI-generated profiles in the past, it remains to be seen how effective this measure will be.
As this legal battle and the ongoing issue of hate speech on X continue to unfold, the impact on Meta’s stock value and the platform’s reputation remains uncertain.
- Elon Musk claims Twitter’s ad revenue has decreased by half.
- Elon Musk’s actions have made the job of Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino more challenging.
- Elon Musk has contributed to creating a more hostile environment for trans individuals on Twitter.
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