Elon Musk, whose greatest hits of the past year have been dropping Tesla prices, rebranding Twitter to X and running the once gold standard for social media apps into the ground, is now threatening sue the Anti-Defamation League on the grounds that the organization’s claims of antisemitism amount to slander that has prompted advertisers to flee the company at alarming rates.
If that feels like a bit much to swallow, it’s with good reason. Musk took over Twitter with promises to promote free speech, which in-part meant bringing back folks who had been banned for hate speech (Kanye West) and using the platform to help foment a literal coup attempt (Donald Trump).
There’s a good argument that if Twitter wasn’t already a cesspool of bigotry before Musk took over, it’s been headed in that direction ever since. The Washington Post reported an explosion in usage of the n-word on the platform just hours after Musk’s $44 billion takeover was completed and, bringing us back to the ADL, another study found that antisemitic posts on the platform skyrocketed as well. If you’re an organization in the business of eradicating hate speech, you might take notice of things like that. When that business is specifically rooting out anti-Black racism or, in the ADL’s case, antisemitism, you might take action.
Musk, though, sees it another way: as the ADL trying wrongfully trying to harm his business.
“Our US advertising revenue is still down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL (that’s what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter!” Musk wrote, on his platform over the weekend, adding that ADL is “trying to kill” X by “falsely accusing it & [him] of being anti-Semitic.”
“If this continues, we will have no choice but to file a defamation suit against, ironically, the ‘Anti-Defamation’ League. If they lose the defamation suit, we will insist that they drop the the “anti” part of their name,” he stated.
In a statement originally reported by CBS News, an ADL spokesperson said that Musk’s threat of a lawsuit is a predictable form of retaliation
“ADL is unsurprised yet undeterred that antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls have launched a coordinated attack on our organization. Such insidious efforts don’t daunt us,” they stated.