Elon Musk’s X Corp. Sues Nonprofit Fighting Online Hate Speech: What Does This Say About Its New Philosophy?

X updated its blog on Aug. 7, announcing that the company had “filed a legal claim” against Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The blog claims that CCDH is trying to prevent free speech and has accessed X’s data without authorization, among other things. 

“[…] X Corp demands a trial by jury of all issues triable by a jury,” reads the last line of the legal claim. 

Some of these alleged issues include data scraping of the X platform, attempting to scare away advertisers from X, spreading a false narrative about the app, trying to censor content that CCDH disagrees with and quoting data out of context.

Another issue that the claim against CCDH raises is that, “In direct response to CCDH’s efforts, some companies have paused their advertising spend on X.” They estimate that “tens of millions of dollars” in ad revenue have been lost because of the anti-hate group.

CCDH aims to raise $100,000 in donations to “fight back against Elon Musk.” Currently, they have attained around $42,000 — 42 percent — of this goal. The organization speaks against “hate and misinformation” on the internet. 

CCDH claimed in June that 99 percent of Twitter Blue accounts post “hate.” However, Musk claimed in July that “more than 99.99 percent of Tweet impressions are from healthy content, or content that does not violate our rules.” This means that the “hate” might exist but the amount of people that can access it is limited through Freedom of Speech, Not Reach.

Freedom of Speech, Not Reach is the philosophy adopted in April under Elon Musk which allows people to express themselves without censorship, yet restricts the “reach of Tweets that violate our policies by making the content less discoverable.” Instead of allowing a post to be left up or taking it down, restricting the reach of the posts is Musk’s way of finding the middle.

What does limiting tweet visibility entail? The X Help Center lists a few ways this can happen. Two of these are “Excluding the Tweet from search results, trends, and recommended notifications” and “Removing the Tweet from the For you and Following timelines.”

If a Tweet violates the terms of service, it might receive this notification and label from the company: “Limited visibility: this Tweet may violate Twitter’s rules against Hateful Conduct.”

In the July update blog, they announced that this label had been applied to more than 700,000 tweets. These tweets receive 81% less impressions than tweets without this label. 

The Twitter Rules, updated in June, list ways that words should not be expressed to promote safety on the app. This includes violent speech — threatening, inciting or glorifying violence, or expressing desire to harm others — hateful conduct, such as attacking others based on aspects of their identities, and more. 

X has made some efforts to prevent hate speech in the Twitter Rules and Freedom of Speech, Not Reach philosophy, but CCDH claims that Twitter is toxic. If this goes to court, the details will come out against both parties.