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Judge Tears Apart Musk’s Lawsuit Over Hate Speech on X

Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

On Monday, a federal judge emphatically dismissed a lawsuit filed by X against a nonprofit that had raised concerns about harmful content on the social media site, declaring that the lawsuit was transparently a retaliatory ploy.

“Sometimes it is unclear what is driving a litigation,” wrote Judge Charles Breyer, whose brother, Stephen, previously served on the U.S. Supreme Court. “Other times, a complaint is so unabashedly and vociferously about one thing that there can be no mistaking that purpose. This case represents the latter circumstance. This case is about punishing the defendants for their speech.”

X, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, had sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate and other entities in July, alleging that the defendants had unlawfully gained access to its data and had misleadingly cherry-picked posts on the site to claim that it “is overwhelmed with harmful content.”

X said the defendants tried to use those findings to persuade advertisers to withhold spending on the platform. The company claimed it lost tens of millions of dollars as a result.

The CCDH, meanwhile, declared in public statements that the litigation was “a direct assault on our free speech, with the aim of running up legal costs, distracting us from our work, and deterring others from reporting on X.” The nonprofit noted that it was represented by Roberta Kaplan, who secured massive judgments against Donald Trump in his defamation battle with writer E. Jean Carroll.

Musk acquired X, formerly known as Twitter, in late 2022, and he has since faced scrutiny for his allegedly capricious management style and for laying off the vast majority of the firm’s staffers; to some critics, the remaining skeleton crew are less equipped to rein in hate speech and other abuses.

Musk has insisted the platform is thriving and performing better than ever, financially and otherwise.

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