X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk says reports about rising levels of hate speech on the social media platform are false, including tracking and analysis by the Anti-Defamation League, and threatened to sue the group that battles intolerance and antisemitism in a series of Monday tweets.

Musk claims the civil rights watchdog group has been “trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic” since the Tesla and SpaceX CEO acquired the platform last October in a $44 billion deal. Musk also alleges that X’s precipitous decline in advertising revenue has been “primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL” and said the claim is based on “what advertisers tell us.”

Back in May, the ADL released a report on the content from thousands of Twitter accounts, including the activity of over 60 accounts that had been previously banned but reinstated under policy changes directed by Musk. The report concluded that the platform’s policy of focusing solely on individual accounts and using a narrow definition of hateful conduct as “threats or incitement of violence,” missed “how hate builds over time through networks even when it is not explicitly coordinated.”

“A single tweet may not violate Twitter’s rules, but these accounts and threads showed clear patterns of antisemitism,” the ADL report authors wrote. “Our findings — coupled with our previous research on how powerful influencers inspire harassment indirectly — demonstrate that Twitter’s content moderation policies are inadequate to mitigate online hate and harassment.”

Other groups, including the Center for Countering Digital Hate, have also issued reports detailing upticks in hate speech on the X platform.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate said its findings indicate the daily use of the n-word under Musk is triple the 2022 average and the use of slurs against gay men and trans persons are up 58% and 62%, respectively, per CNN.

In late July, Musk’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate, claiming that “activist organizations masquerading as research agencies ... have embarked on a scare campaign to drive away advertisers from the X platform.”

“CCDH has done this by engaging in a series of unlawful acts designed to improperly gain access to protected X Corp. data, needed by CCDH so that it could cherry-pick from the hundreds of millions of posts made each day on X and falsely claim it had statistical support showing the platform is overwhelmed with harmful content,” the lawsuit reads.

Center for Countering Digital Hate CEO Imran Ahmed previously told CNN that much of the lawsuit, particularly its claim about the unnamed individual, “sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory to me.”

“The truth is that he’s (Elon Musk) been casting around for a reason to blame us for his own failings as a CEO,” Ahmed said. “Because we all know that when he took over, he put up the bat signal to racists and misogynists, to homophobes, to antisemites, saying ‘Twitter is now a free-speech platform.’ … And now he’s surprised when people are able to quantify that there has been a resulting increase in hate and disinformation.”

In another tweet on Monday, Musk said he was “pro free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind.”

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The hashtag campaign #BanTheADL has been trending on X and the ADL has accused Musk of “lifting” the effort through liking and engaging with tweets carrying the hashtag.

“ADL is unsurprised yet undeterred that antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls have launched a coordinated attack on our organization. This type of thing is nothing new,” an ADL spokesperson said, according to a CNN report.

Last week, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted about a meeting he had with X CEO Linda Yaccarino, characterizing his talk with her as “frank + productive” and expressed his hope that the platform will improve. But Greenblatt also promised that his organization will continue to monitor hate speech on X and hold the operators responsible for appropriate content moderation.

“@ADL will be vigilant and give her and @ElonMusk credit if the service gets better... and reserve the right to call them out until it does.”

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