The Twisted Logic of Elon Musk Threatening ADL
Elon Musk threatens to sue the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for blaming his platform for advertising revenue loss.
Elon Musk, CEO of X, formerly known as Twitter, has threatened to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), accusing the organization of being responsible for his company's advertising revenue decline. However, it is highly unlikely that Musk's legal argument would hold up in court. It is concerning that Musk has specifically targeted the ADL as the cause of his platform's advertising woes, as it hints at antisemitic tropes suggesting that Jews control the world economy.
Even considering Musk's history of provocative statements, his comments about the ADL are still surprising. He claims that the ADL has been attempting to destroy his platform by falsely accusing him of antisemitism. Musk alleges that the ADL is primarily responsible for the loss of advertising revenue on X, based on information from advertisers. He suggests that a thorough examination of communications between the ADL and advertisers would reveal the truth.
The nature of these communications is unclear, but for Musk to succeed in a defamation lawsuit, he would need to prove that the ADL has made false claims about him and his company. It remains unknown whether Musk has drafted a complaint or not. The ADL has declined to comment on legal threats as a matter of policy.
The ADL's criticisms of antisemitism on Musk's platform are supported by evidence. The organization has highlighted instances of hate speech and antisemitic tropes on X, criticizing the platform for not enforcing its own policies against such behavior. In May, the ADL published a report documenting examples of flourishing antisemitic harassment networks on X. While the ADL's methodology may be unclear at times, and their definition of antisemitism occasionally conflates it with anti-Zionism, they have provided compelling evidence in their posts. It is evident to anyone who spends time on X that hate speech targeting various minority communities is rampant. It is worth noting that the ADL does not accuse Musk or X of being antisemitic, but rather critiques the company for its failure to address antisemitic speech. Musk himself claims to be "pro free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind."
Musk's decision to single out the ADL is peculiar, considering the numerous civil rights organizations, research groups, and media commentators that have criticized his lax approach to hate speech. Additionally, advertisers may choose to reduce spending on the platform due to concerns about potential reputational risks, independent of pressure from activist groups or critics. In fact, some advertisers began pulling back from spending on Twitter when Musk took over due to his promises to loosen content moderation. A study from Montclair University found a surge in hate speech on the platform the day after Musk's arrival, suggesting a correlation between his presence and the tolerance of hostile content.
Will Musk actually sue the ADL? It is a possibility. He has previously filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate, accusing them of accessing X's data without authorization. However, filing a lawsuit does not guarantee success. Musk would need to prove that the ADL made false claims that caused damage to his business. Unfortunately for him, the ADL is entitled to their opinion on what constitutes antisemitism, just as advertisers are entitled to choose where they spend their money.