Elon Musk has threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for billions of dollars after quixotically blaming the Jewish rights organisation for spreading antisemitism on his social media platform X.
The self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist”, who has amplified and reinstated neo-Nazi and far-right accounts since acquiring X, formerly known as Twitter, for $44bn last year blamed the ADL for “destroying” $22bn in the company’s value in a series of posts on Monday.
“Since the acquisition, The ADL has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic,” Mr Musk wrote.
He claimed that the site’s United States advertising revenue was down 60 per cent “primarily due to pressure on advertisers by ADL”.
“If this continues, we will have no choice but to file a defamation suit against, ironically, the ‘Anti-Defamation’ League.”
An ADL spokesperson told The Independent in a statement that it did not comment on legal threats, but added that Mr Musk was helping to boost a coordinated “Ban the ADL” campaign being waged by self-declared antisemites.
“ADL is unsurprised yet undeterred that antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls have launched a coordinated attack on our organisation. This type of thing is nothing new,” the ADL spokesperson said.
“Such insidious efforts don’t daunt us. 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 marginalised groups.”
Mr Musk’s threats to sue the ADL, a century-old NGO that describes itself as the “leading anti-hate organisation in the world”, were met with anger and disbelief from some commentators on X.
“In his pursuit of some kind of utopian free speech universe, Elon Musk has turned Twitter / X into a free-for-all for Neo Nazis and White Extremists to unleash a torrent of unprecedented antisemitism and Jew hatred,” wrote Israeli human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky.
NYU professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat posted: “So it's the Jews manipulating others. Elon Musk that is so original!”
Since Mr Musk’s takeover, advertisers have fled the platform or reduced their ad spend as hateful content was allowed to spread unchecked.
Mr Musk, the world’s richest person with an estimated net wealth of $248bn, fired an estimated 80 per cent of its workforce, including most of its content moderators, and reinstated previously banned accounts.
X’s US advertising revenue over a five-week period from April to May this year came to $88m, a 59 percent decrease from one year ago, according to the New York Times.
In August, X filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) after it published a report showing that moderators had failed to take action on 99 out of 100 examples of harmful content by verified “blue check” users that the organisation had flagged.
“Musk is trying to ‘shoot the messenger’ who highlights the toxic content on his platform rather than deal with the toxic environment he’s created,” CEO Imran Ahmed said in a statement.
“CCDH has no intention of stopping our independent research – Musk will not bully us into silence.”
The Independent attempted to reach Mr Musk through X, Tesla and via a personal email address but did not hear back.