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Elon Musk threatens to sue Anti-Defamation League over antisemitism claims

Elon Musk said he may sue the Anti-Defamation League for purportedly accusing X and the billionaire owner of the social platform of antisemitism and fueling advertisers’ exodus from the social network.

In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Monday, Musk accused the civil rights group of “trying to kill” X by “falsely accusing it & [him] of being anti-Semitic.” In another post he claimed that X’s falling advertising revenue, which has plunged roughly 60% since his formal takeover of the platform in October of 2022, is “primarily due to pressure on advertisers” by the ADL.

“If this continues, we will have no choice but to file a defamation suit against, ironically, the ‘Anti-Defamation’ League,” Musk said.

Musk’s threats to sue the ADL come after a campaign called #BanTheADL trended on X this weekend. Musk engaged with the campaign, which calls for the group’s account on X to be banned, and asked his more than 155 million followers if he should “run a poll” on the matter.  

The ADL said it normally doesn’t comment on legal threats, but in a statement shared with CBS MoneyWatch on Tuesday it  addressed the campaign to remove its account from X.

“ADL is unsurprised yet undeterred that antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls have launched a coordinated attack on our organization,” an ADL spokesperson said. “Such insidious efforts don’t daunt us.”

The ADL has flagged a surge in bullying and antisemitic posts on X following the billionaire’s acquisition of the social network last year. After buying Twitter, Musk reinstated the accounts of prominent users such as Babylon Bee and Andrew Tate that previously were banned for publishing content that violated the platform’s hate speech policies before Musk acquired it. 

Since then, Musk has also rolled back rules that removed “violative hateful content” on the platform, the ADL said in a June report. According to that analysis, 27% of online harassment this year occurred on X, up from 21% in 2022. The nonprofit group also pointed to a rise in antisemitism on the Musk-owned platform. 

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In an X post on Monday, Musk insisted that while he is “pro free speech,” he is “against anti-Semitism of any kind.” 

This isn’t the first time X leaders have pushed back against criticism from an advocacy group. In July, X filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate for what the technology company characterized as a “scare campaign to drive away advertisers from the X platform.”

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