The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has recently accused X Corp, the owners of Twitter, of trying to intimidate anti-hate campaigners into silence by sending them letters threatening legal action. According to CCDH, X Corp accused the organization of making “troubling and baseless claims” in its reports concerning the platform’s performance.
Elon Musk, who purchased the platform and promised to uphold free speech, has been at the center of this controversy. Imran Ahmed, the CCDH chief executive, has criticized Musk’s actions, considering them a blatant attempt to suppress honest criticism.
The accusations against Twitter escalated after Mr. Musk took over the platform, with former employees also alleging that the company was not doing enough to combat hate speech and misinformation. However, Mr. Musk claimed in December that hate speech on the platform had decreased by a third.
Recently, Twitter underwent a rebranding, becoming X Corp, under Mr. Musk’s ownership. Despite this change, the platform has faced criticism for reinstating Kanye West after an eight-month ban for posting offensive tweets, including one with a symbol combining a swastika and the Star of David.
In response to the CCDH’s allegations that Twitter fails to act on 99% of hateful messages from Twitter Blue subscription accounts, X Corp’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, dismissed the claims as unfounded, citing a flawed methodology and accusing CCDH of receiving support from X Corp’s commercial rivals and government entities.
Mr. Spiro’s letter also claimed that the CCDH’s actions were aimed at driving away advertisers, and X Corp is considering legal action. The company’s advertising revenue has reportedly decreased by almost half since Mr. Musk’s takeover, as revealed in July.
CCDH’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, refuted the accusations in the letter, calling it “ridiculous” and lacking factual basis. Kaplan saw it as a disturbing attempt to intimidate those advocating against hate speech and harmful content online. CCDH asserted that it does not accept funding from social media companies or government bodies, allowing them to criticize or praise them impartially.
British politicians expressed support for CCDH’s efforts to combat hate speech on social media. Damian Collins, a British MP on the UK board of CCDH, criticized Musk’s commitment to free speech, suggesting it did not apply when his firm faced criticism. Lucy Powell MP, the shadow culture secretary, praised CCDH for its vital work in tackling hate online and holding platforms accountable for misinformation.
Following the rebranding, X Corp had replaced the old Twitter sign at its San Francisco headquarters with a new, brightly lit, and flashing X. However, due to complaints, the company has been ordered to remove the new sign.