A hot potato: Twitter, or X as it's now known, has long had a reputation for hosting toxicity. That's unlikely to be lessened by the news that X Corp. has filed a lawsuit against a nonprofit group that says it aims to stop the spread of online hate and disinformation.
X Corp. claims in its lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court, that The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) is illegally scraping its servers and cherry-picking the most hateful posts it can find as part of "a scare campaign to drive away advertisers."
A report published by the group in June claimed that Twitter (as it still was then) fails to act on 99% of hate posted by Twitter Blue subscribers, suggesting the platform allows paying users to break the rules. Researchers reported hate-promoting tweets from Blue subscribers using the site's own flagging tools for hateful content. Four days later, it was discovered that none of the accounts had been removed and just 1% of the tweets had been deleted.
The CCDH concluded that Twitter failed to act on tweets containing racist, homophobic, neo-Nazi, antisemitic, or conspiracy content.
The response from X was that the group had used improper methodology in its study and that the research was false, misleading, or both. X also claimed that the Center is funded by Twitter competitors or foreign governments "in support of an ulterior agenda."
I have raked Elon Musk over the coals daily for a year.– Kristen Ruby (@sparklingruby) July 31, 2023
But today - that changes.
He will face extreme hell from academic researchers for this.
I respect what he did - because having also faced hell from them for exposing the truth - it's not an easy thing to do.
Yesterday, X posted an article titled 'Protecting the public's right to free expression,' in which the company says it believes people of all backgrounds and beliefs should have the right to freely express themselves, so long as they do so within the bounds of the law. X reiterated a previous claim that 99.99% of post impressions on the platform are healthy, which brought a fair amount of controversy at the time.
X goes on to say that the CCDH's claims have been encouraging advertisers to pause investment in the platform, and that the researchers' metrics were used out of context to make unsubstantiated assertions. It adds that the Center illegally scraped data, accessing it without authorization from Twitter partner Brandwatch, which offers market insights. Data scraping is something Elon Musk really doesn't like, and as such the company is suing the CCDH.
X also accuses the group of "targeting people on all platforms who speak about issues the CCDH doesn't agree with," targeting free-speech organizations, and attempting to deplatform users whose views do not align with its own ideological agenda.
In a response letter published today, the CCDH said X showed a disturbing effort to intimidate those who have the courage to advocate against incitement, hate speech, and harmful content online. It also accuses X of shooting the messenger. The organization said that while it did not review the 500 million tweets posted each day, it never claimed to have done so.
It was revealed in June that X's ad sales were down 59% year-on-year, reportedly due to advertisers' concerns over the increasing amount of hate speech and pornography on the platform.