The Anti Defamation League is Musk's latest excuse for Twitter's tanking ad revenue
There's something very familiar about all this
Déjà vu time: Elon Musk is threatening to sue another civil rights group for losing him money.
This time, the world's sometimes-richest man claimed on Twitter that its US advertising revenue is "down 60 percent" primarily due to the efforts of a single group: the antisemitism-combating Anti Defamation League. At least, "that's what advertisers tell us," Musk claimed.
"Since the acquisition, the Anti Defamation League has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it and me of being anti-Semitic," the Tesla tycoon and Twitter owner alleged over the US Labor Day holiday. "To be super clear, I'm pro free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind."
I'm pro free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind
All that, Musk said, meant that he was going to be forced "to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League." It's unknown if or when such a lawsuit has been or will be filed, though this isn't Musk's first an-anti-hate-speech-group-is-costing-me-money rodeo: Twitter, or X Corp as it's now known, filed a similar lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) just last month.
The CCDH, a non-profit group based in the UK, published "misleading" reports highlighting hate-filled tweets, X alleged in its suit. Along with violating Twitter's policies against scraping data, the CCDH also caused X's advertisers to flee by pointing out vitriol on the social network, unfairly costing the biz money, Musk claimed.
X is facing a serious ad revenue shortage, and it's thus super keen to make up for the loss. "[The ADL] would potentially be on the hook for destroying half the value of the company, so roughly $22 billion," Musk claimed.
"I don't see any scenario where they're responsible for less than 10 percent of the value destruction, so ~$4 billion," the Xitter billionaire added. We note that Musk's value in those posts appears to reference the $44 billion he paid for Twitter - a number he himself admitted was overpriced, and which investors believe has plummeted since the SpaceX supremo's takeover.
Let's just shoot the messenger, shall we?
This isn't to say the ADL hasn't been putting the pressure on Musk since he bought Twitter last October: it's been hammering him for what it appears to broadly see as a rise in hate speech under Musk's leadership.
In December, the ADL said it noticed an increase in antisemitic content on the social network, as well as the "return of extremists of all kinds to the platform [that] has the potential to supercharge the spread of extremist content." The ADL further noted the return of what it said were "extremists and conspiracy theorists" emboldened by Twitter's content amnesty policies, and further alleged that X wasn't enforcing its own rules against antisemitic content.
We note that in April of this year the German government sued Twitter over such alleged pervasive failures in its complaint process that it believed there were systemic issues with its enforcement of hate speech rules.
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Six months on from Musk's purchase, the ADL noted in May, it was concerned by "opaque changes and discouraging trends," and delivered a series of recommendations to X on how to better limit the spread of hate speech on the platform.
The ADL told us that it doesn't comment on legal threats, but that it had also taken note of Musk's amplification of the #BanTheADL campaign on X, which it called a "coordinated attack" by "antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls" that is "nothing new."
"Such insidious efforts don't daunt us," an ADL spokesperson told The Register. "Instead, they drive us to be unflinching in our commitment to fight hate in all its forms and ensure the safety of Jewish communities and other marginalized groups."
We asked X if it planned to follow through on Musk's threats, and received only the standard automated response. While it's now gone, this reporter will admit to missing the honesty of the poop emoji compared to "we'll get back to you soon." ®