Twitter Issues Legal Threat Against Hate-Speech Watchdog Group

twitter-issues-legal-threat-against-hate-speech-watchdog-group

Elon Musk has described himself as an absolutist of free speech and lauded “even my worst critics.” Twitter has now threatened to sue an organization that has harshly criticized the platform’s management of hate speech and disinformation.

In a letter dated July 20 that was made public on July 21, Twitter threatened to prosecute the Center for Countering Digital Hate, accusing the organization of a campaign to harm Twitter by luring away its advertisers. The CCDH has published a number of reports on the various social media companies’ approaches to vaccine misinformation, online bigotry, and antisemitism, among other topics.

In his letter, Alex Spiro, an attorney representing Twitter owner Musk, asserts that CCDH has made “inflammatory, outrageous, and false or misleading assertions about Twitter and its operations” in its reports, which he argues lack scientific rigor.

To support his claim, Spiro cited a report in which CCDH staff flagged as detrimental the tweets of 100 Twitter Blue subscribers and discovered, after several days, that the company had not taken action against the overwhelming majority of them. According to the resultant CCDH report, Twitter neglected to take action against “99.9% of Twitter Blue accounts that tweeting hatred.”

Since assuming control of Twitter, Musk has eliminated approximately 80% of the company’s workforce, including a significant portion of the content moderation teams.

Hate Speech Cases Increased

twitter-issues-legal-threat-against-hate-speech-watchdog-group
Elon Musk has described himself as an absolutist of free speech and lauded “even my worst critics.”

In December, Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, which was composed of external experts on online safety, human rights, mental health, suicide prevention, and child sexual exploitation.

Multiple organizations, including the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as researchers from Tufts University and the University of Southern California, have reported an increase in hate speech.

Musk asserted that perceptions of hate speech, which he characterized as being based on a list of “bad words,” decreased in the month following his acquisition.

Concerns regarding the platform’s management of hateful content under Musk’s leadership last year have persisted, prompting many brands to suspend advertising on Twitter and contributing to the company’s steep financial losses.

Despite claiming in April that the majority of Twitter’s advertisers had returned, Musk admitted this month that Twitter’s ad revenue is still down by 50 percent and the company is still cash-negative.

In addition, Twitter has modified its platform to restrict third-party access to its data, a move that has drawn widespread criticism from academic researchers who study online extremism and other harms. The changes, which require researchers to pay costly fees, could impede research into the spread of misinformation, harassment, and spam on Twitter, say experts.

As Twitter continues to confront pressure, Musk has favored threatening legal action. This month, Twitter threatened to sue Facebook-parent Meta over the launch of its competing app, Threads, alleging trade secret theft. In May, Spiro sent a letter to Microsoft accusing it of abusing its ability to extract tweets from the platform, as Musk escalated his criticism of the Redmond, Washington tech behemoth as an artificial intelligence rival.

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Source: CNN

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