Elon Musk Threatens to Sue Anti-‘Hate’ and ‘Disinformation’ Group

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 31, 2023Businessshare

Businessman Elon Musk has threatened to sue a group whose reports were often cited by the Biden administration as government officials pressured Big Tech companies to crack down on users over alleged disinformation.

The group, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), has made “troubling and baseless claims that appear calculated to harm Twitter,” Alex Spiro, one of Mr. Musk’s lawyers, said in a warning letter to the center dated July 20 and made public on July 31.

After Mr. Musk bought Twitter, now known as X, the London-based center has repeatedly criticized moves he’s made, including restoring accounts that had been banned and loosening moderation.

“By reinstating misogynists, racists, and violence-inciters … Twitter is enabling a wave of hatred to spread on the platform – especially towards minoritized communities,” it said in one statement.

In a recent article, the center claimed that Twitter had failed to act on 99 percent of verified accounts that were posting “hate.” But the claim was based on reporting a single post from 100 verified users and tracking whether those posts had been removed or otherwise subject to moderation four days later.

“CCDH’s claims in this article are false, misleading, or both, and they are not supported by anything that could credibly be called research,” Mr. Spiro said. “The article provides no methodology for its selection or testing of tweets, no baseline for Twitter’s enforcement time frame, and no explanation as to why the 100 chosen tweets represent an appropriate sample of the nearly 500 million tweets sent per day from which to generalize about the platform’s content moderation practices.”

The article “leaves no doubt that CCDH intends to harm Twitter’s business by driving advertisers away from the platform with incendiary claims,” Mr. Spiro added, noting that CCDH said that advertisers were giving their “tacit approval” for Mr. Musk “allowing hate to prosper” on Twitter.

He said Mr. Musk’s lawyers are investigating whether to sue over the “false and misleading claims” under the Lanham Act, which prohibits false and misleading descriptions of businesses and people’s business activities.


In response, a lawyer for CCDH defended the center and said it had not made any false or misleading claims about Twitter.

Mr. Spiro’s letter, the lawyer added, represents “a disturbing effort to intimidate those who have the courage to advocate against incitement, hate speech and harmful content online, to conduct research and analysis regarding the drivers of such disinformation, and to publicly release the findings of that research, even when the findings may be critical of certain platforms.”

“While it is true that CCDH did not undertake a review of the ‘500 million tweets’ that you claim are posted on Twitter each day, CCDH never claimed to have done so,” Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer, wrote.

Ms. Kaplan also said that the lawsuit threat was not legitimate.

“The statements you complain about constitute political, journalistic, and research work on matters of significant public concern, which obviously are not constrained by the Lanham Act in any way. Moreover, as a nonprofit working to stop online hate, CCDH is obviously not in competition with Twitter, which makes your allegations of a Lanham Act injury even more fanciful,” she said.

The center has also published reports critical of some of Twitter’s competitors, including Facebook and TikTok.

“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,” Imran Ahmed, the center’s CEO, said in a statement. “Musk is targeting CCDH because we reveal the truth about the spread of hate and disinformation on Twitter under his ownership, and it’s impacting his bottom line. CCDH will continue to hold social media companies that spread hate and disinformation online accountable to the public.”


The center favors deplatforming people who espouse alleged hate and disinformation, including some well-regarded conservative websites. It has targeted people over their views on COVID-19 vaccines, identifying 12 as the “disinformation dozen” and calling on social media companies to ban them. “They have all failed to remove the accounts of prominent anti-vaxxers who have repeatedly violated their terms of service,” the group said at the time.

It added, “The most effective and efficient way to stop the dissemination of harmful information is to deplatform the most highly visible repeat offenders.”

Among the posts the center highlighted was one made in late 2020 arguing that people would be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to travel, which ended up being true, and another offered in early 2021 decrying the lack of safety data for COVID-19 vaccines and pregnant women after they’d been excluded from the clinical trials.

President Joe Biden’s administration promoted the deplatforming effort, which led to a crackdown by some companies and several lawsuits. One federal judge has ruled that the pressure was likely illegal and blocked administration officials from corresponding with the companies, though that order was placed on hold for now.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.