Elon Musk Accuses Anti-Defamation League of Damaging X (Twitter) Reputation

The recent spat between Elon Musk and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has escalated into a legal imbroglio. 

Musk announced his intent to file a defamation lawsuit against the ADL, accusing the organization of damaging X’s reputation and revenues by labeling him and the platform as antisemitic.

Elon Musk Goes After the Anti-Defamation League

Musk’s allegations are stark:

“Our US advertising revenue is still down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by ADL (that’s what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter!”

This claim follows months of tension and public spats between Musk and various organizations over the issue of hate speech on the X platform.

According to a report by the New York Times, X’s US advertising revenue plummeted to $88 million during a five-week period in the second quarter, reflecting a 59% drop from the previous year. 

Twitter X Ad Revenue 2021-2023. Source: Oberlo

While Musk attributes this decline solely to the ADL’s influence, industry experts offer a more nuanced perspective.

TechCrunch, in a recent analysis, argued that external factors like a slow economy and Musk’s own controversial public behavior could also contribute to X’s dwindling ad revenues.

Read more: Mastodon: What To Know About the Decentralized Twitter Alternative

A Checkered Past With Antisemitic Content

But why is the ADL’s accusation a pivotal point? The ADL, a watchdog against antisemitism and hate speech, carries substantial clout. Its opinions can make or break relationships between advertisers and platforms. Moreover, the ADL has a history of critiquing social media channels for their lax policies on hate speech. 

A 2016 report by the ADL highlighted the rise in antisemitic content on Twitter long before Musk acquired the platform.

Earlier this year, Germany filed a lawsuit against X for failing to curb Holocaust denial posts, a criminal offense in the country. Musk has himself been criticized for engaging with antisemitic content.

This suggests that the problem of hate speech on X is multifaceted. It is a problem that cannot be solely attributed to any one party or institution.

However, it’s crucial to note that the platform, under Musk’s ownership, has also sued the British nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). X accused the CCDH of manipulating data to claim that X failed to act on 99% of hate speech posts by Twitter Blue users.

With increased scrutiny from watchdogs and the public, advertisers must exercise more caution than ever. Their budgets are finite, and their brand image is at stake. They will gravitate toward platforms that champion free speech and ensure that such freedom doesn’t transgress into hate speech.


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