A nonprofit that monitors online hate speech urged a US federal judge to throw out Elon Musk’s X Corp’s “ridiculous” lawsuit to suppress free speech.
X, formerly Twitter, sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate in July, accusing it of trying to drive away advertisers with a “scare campaign” that featured hate speech and other harmful content that appeared to be prevalent on the platform.
According to the complaint, X lost tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue from “false and misleading” research reports the center published to create an “ideological echo chamber” for its preferred views.
This week, Musk, the world’s richest person, caused an uproar when he accepted as “the real truth” an anti-Semitic post from X that falsely accused Jews of hating white people.
In a filing Thursday night in federal court in San Francisco, the Center for Countering Digital Hate said X made allegations about how it collected data from the platform, with each theory “more fanciful and absurd than the last.”
The organization also called the lawsuit “ridiculous” and “baseless” as an attempt to silence others who say things X may not like. It also disputed X’s claim that commercial competitors and perhaps even foreign governments funded its operations.
“X Corp’s complaint is not that the CCDH defendants collected public information against vague (and largely imagined) contractual terms, but that they (violently) criticized X Corp in public,” the nonprofit said. “Fortunately, state and federal free speech protections are not so easily circumvented.”
X’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Since Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022, he has faced much criticism for firing too many people who policed misinformation on the platform and for allowing more harmful and offensive messages.
IBM suspended advertising for X on Thursday after a report found that its ads appeared alongside content promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
Musk is also the CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, which has faced several lawsuits alleging it tolerates employee harassment.
In September, X sued California to block the state from enforcing a law that requires social media companies to publish policies to monitor abuse, harassment, hate speech and extremism.
X said the law, Assembly Bill 587, infringes on its freedom of expression. A federal judge will begin reviewing whether to impose the law in late November.
The case is X Corp v. Center for Countering Digital Hate Inc et al, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 23-03836.