Elon Musk's X Just Threatened To Sue A Hate-Speech Tracking Nonprofit: Here's Why

Since 2018, the Center for Countering Digital Hate has researched the proliferation of hate speech and misinformation across prominent social media platforms in an effort to hold the owners of those platforms accountable and prevent toxicity from circulating throughout the world. X, formerly known as Twitter, has amassed a reputation over the years for being a hotbed of hate speech, which is why the platform has frequently found itself in the CCDH's crosshairs, especially since its acquisition by Elon Musk. However, it seems that Musk has taken umbrage with the center's criticism, and seeks to clamp down on them.

Today, the CCDH announced on its official news blog that it had received a formal legal threat from Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, one of Musk's most prominent legal representatives. Spiro's statement, which was directed toward the center's chief executive, Imran Ahmed, accused the CCDH of deliberately disseminating false information about Twitter's hate speech problems in an effort to attack the platform directly.

X's grievances, CCDH's response

In his complaint, Spiro decried the CCDH's efforts to research hate speech on X, saying that the center "regularly posts articles making inflammatory, outrageous, and false or misleading assertions about Twitter and its operations, which CCDH holds out to the general public as supported by 'research.'"

Spiro's primary citation was a June CCDH article that analyzes Twitter's alleged failure to act on hate speech posted by Twitter Blue-verified accounts. Spiro dismissed the claims made in this article as "false, misleading, or both, and they are not supported by anything that could credibly be called research."

Spiro concludes his message with a direct threat, saying "Twitter will employ any and all legal tools at its disposal to prevent false or misleading claims from harming its users, platform, or business."

In response to Spiro's complaint, CCDH lawyer Roberta Kaplan of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP dismissed the legal threat as nothing but a way to deflect criticism of the X platform and Elon Musk's handling of it.

"Simply put, there is no bona fide legal grievance here. Your effort to wield that threat anyway, on a law firm's letterhead, is a transparent attempt to silence honest criticism. Obviously, such conduct could hardly be more inconsistent with the commitment to free speech purportedly held by Twitter's current leadership."

She added that Spiro is free to attempt a lawsuit if he wishes, but noted that the CCDH is fully prepared to defend itself against "frivolous claims."