Legal battle looms as X takes on hate speech tracker group over ‘false claims’

Elon Musk’s X Corp., the parent company of Twitter (renamed, sent a letter to the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a nonprofit organisation studying hate speech and misinformation on social media. In the letter, X Corp. accused the center of making harmful and unfounded claims against Twitter and threatened legal action.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate published research in June, highlighting hate speech on Twitter.

One of their papers revealed that Twitter had taken no action against 99 percent of 100 reported Twitter Blue accounts for “tweeting hate.”

Elon Musk’s company dismissed the research as false and misleading, citing improper methodology and accusing the center of being funded by Twitter’s competitors or foreign governments with ulterior motives. CCDH’s operations were “supported by funding from X Corp’s commercial competitors, as well as government entities and their affiliates,” the letter read. 

The letter was sent by Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro of US law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan. “The article is little more than a series of inflammatory, misleading, and unsupported claims based on a cursory review of random tweets,” Spiro wrote.

Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, criticised Elon Musk’s actions as an attempt to silence legitimate criticism and independent research.

He argued that Musk’s motivation was to improve his relationship with advertisers and suppress negative stories.

“Elon Musk’s actions represent a brazen attempt to silence honest criticism and independent research,” he said adding that Musk sought to “stem the tide of negative stories and rebuild his relationship with advertisers,” reported New York Times. In retaliation, letter sent by Musk lawyer said it is nothing but a “series of troubling and baseless claims that appear calculated to harm Twitter generally, and its digital advertising business specifically”.

Twitter’s struggling advertising business

Under Elon Musk’s ownership, Twitter’s advertising business has faced challenges. The US ad revenue for a five-week period showed a 59 percent decline compared to the previous year.

Advertisers seem wary of Musk’s changes to the social network, which include removing content guidelines and featuring more ads related to online gambling and marijuana products.

In an effort to address the advertising struggles, Musk hired Linda Yaccarino, a former top advertising executive for NBCUniversal, as Twitter’s new chief executive.

This letter to the Center for Countering Digital Hate is not the first legal threat from X Corp.

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In May, Musk targeted Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, accusing the tech giant of improper data usage.

Additionally, X Corp. sent a letter to Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, accusing them of copying Twitter’s trade secrets when creating their new social app, Threads.

Furthermore, X Corp. filed a lawsuit against Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a prominent corporate law firm, over alleged unjust payments related to Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.

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