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Elon Musk blames ADL for lost revenue, says he opposes antisemitism 'of any kind'

The tech mogul said he was considering legal action after blaming the Anti-Defamation League for lost advertisers.
Elon Musk at the Viva Tech fair in Paris on June 16, 2023.
Elon Musk at the Viva Tech fair in Paris on June 16.Nathan Laine / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Elon Musk on Monday posted that he was against antisemitism and blamed the Anti-Defamation League for lost advertising revenue since his acquisition of X, formerly known as Twitter.

The tech mogul posted his stance on free speech and antisemitism seemingly out of the blue on his verified account Monday afternoon. When asked by a user who was questioning his stance, Musk alleged that the ADL has been "trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic."

"If this continues, we will have no choice but to file a defamation suit against, ironically, the 'Anti-Defamation' League," Musk wrote. "If they lose the defamation suit, we will insist that they drop the the 'anti' part of their name, since obviously …"

He later wrote in another post that X has "no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit" against the group to clear his company's name.

An email to attorneys representing Musk and X asking whether a complaint has been drafted was not immediately returned.

Musk also noted that X's advertising revenue remains down by 60% in the U.S. and alleged that advertisers have told the social media platform that pressure from the ADL is part of the reason.

The ADL said Monday that as a matter of policy it does not comment on legal threats. A spokesperson referred NBC News to a general statement the organization made in response to a recent #BanTheADL campaign on the platform, which Musk has engaged with.

Musk suggested in a post on Saturday that maybe he should "run a poll" on the matter.

"Such insidious efforts don’t daunt us," the statement said. "Instead, they drive us to be unflinching in our commitment to fight hate in all its forms and ensure the safety of Jewish communities and other marginalized groups.”

NBC News reported in November that advertisers were pulling back from the platform as companies had concerns regarding what changes Musk would make with the social media platform. Musk blamed “activist groups” for attempting to “destroy free speech in America” in a post at the time.

The comments from Musk were later given additional context by users, which linked to news articles that suggested advertisers were acting on their own accord.

X filed a lawsuit last month against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a nonprofit organization that monitors hate speech and disinformation. He accused the center of orchestrating a “scare campaign to drive away advertisers from the X platform," according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit alleges that CCDH published reports accusing the platform of failing to take action against hate speech and that the CCDH committed "a series of unlawful acts designed to improperly gain access" to the platform's data.

Imran Ahmed, the center's founder and chief executive, accused Musk of bullying in a statement at the time, describing the suit as "straight out of the authoritarian playbook."

"The Center for Countering Digital Hate’s research shows that hate and disinformation is spreading like wildfire on the platform under Musk's ownership and this lawsuit is a direct attempt to silence those efforts," Ahmed said.

The ADL also posted a report in March accusing the platform of failing to take action against hate speech. The group's ADL Center for Technology and Society found that only 28 percent of posts flagged for antisemitic content were taken down or sanctioned.

"While we have no way to actually verify if the company is de-amplifying antisemitic content, we have found that Twitter is failing to take down tweets that clearly violate hateful conduct policies," the report said.

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

A study from Montclair State University last year showed a spike in hate speech on the platform the day after Musk took over the company in October. The terms studied included vulgar and hostile terms for individuals based on race, as well as other protected classes.

"The data conclusively shows that there is a correlation between Musk’s arrival and a broader perceived acceptability to posted hostile content on Twitter," the university said.

In April, the social media site received backlash for seemingly stepping back from a longstanding policy that aimed to protect transgender people on the platform. Twitter had banned the targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender people since 2018, but a line referring to that ban was removed from its policy earlier this year.

GLAAD named Twitter, now X, "the most dangerous platform for LGBTQ people” in its Social Media Safety Index.