Nonprofit sued by Elon Musk’s X claps back: It’s ‘straight out of the authoritarian playbook’

  • Elon Musk’s X Corp. sued a nonprofit, alleging it made false claims about harmful content on Twitter.
  • The nonprofit’s CEO, Imran Ahmed, said the lawsuit was “straight out of the authoritarian playbook.”

The nonprofit responded the day of the filing, denouncing what it called Musk’s attempts to “intimidate and silence the organization” in a statement. But Ahmed’s latest comments Tuesday ramped up the criticism of Musk’s management of his social media platform.

Ahmed said in his statement on Tuesday that Musk was attempting “to ‘shoot the messenger'” rather than “deal with the toxic environment he’s created.”

“Elon Musk didn’t like the reflection he saw in the mirror, and so he sued the mirror,” Ahmed wrote on X.

When asked for comment on Ahmed’s remarks, X responded with an automated reply. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

The two executives have exchanged harsh words before. In July, Musk referred to Ahmed as a “rat” and called his nonprofit “truly evil” in a string of Twitter replies. In response, Ahmed called Musk “petulant.”

Musk’s displeasure with the organization likely stems from the nonprofit’s reports that found high levels of harmful content on X, then known as Twitter.

Last December, the Center for Countering Digital Hate published a report that said racist and antisemitic content on Twitter surged in the week after Musk purchased the platform. The nonprofit has published several other reports related to Musk’s platform this year, including on topics like the increase of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric on Twitter and the levels of hate speech among Twitter Blue subscribers.

X’s lawsuit alleges that the Center for Countering Digital Hate “embarked on a scare campaign” to dissuade advertisers from working with Musk’s company.

Since Musk’s purchase of Twitter last October, his platform has struggled to retain advertising revenue. Several prominent brands fled last November, and Musk admitted in a tweet that the exodus resulted in a “massive drop in revenue” for the brand.

Advertisers left in part due to rising concerns about hate speech and misinformation circulating on Twitter under Musk’s direction. But Musk has cited his desire to establish the platform as a free speech haven was a key reason he purchased Twitter.

Musk told BBC reporters in April that almost all advertisers that left had either come back or planned to return. But leaked internal documents showed that Twitter’s ad revenue dropped 59% from April 1 to the first week of May when compared to the same period a year prior.

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