Sep 6, 2023

Elon Battles The ADL Amid Free Speech Debate

X will have to decide how far it’s willing to go in defense of free speech.
Elon Battles The ADL Amid Free Speech Debate

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What’s happening: Elon Musk has threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), alleging the organization hurt ad revenue on X, formerly Twitter, by ”falsely accusing” the platform of promoting antisemitism.

  • Elon’s problem: Musk's free speech direction meant unbanning users previously censored — many of whom were banned for antisemitic content. This has naturally led to an increase in that content. X also allows this content to be monetized under its creator revenue-sharing program.
  • The ADL’s role: Advertisers have pulled back from X over fears that Musk’s commitment to free speech made the platform risky to advertise with. The ADL has amplified the concerns and recently met with the company to discuss middle ground.

Zoom out: Originally created to fight antisemitism, the ADL has taken a hard partisan turn in recent years under a former Obama aide, Jonathan Greenblatt. This follows a pattern of other age-old liberal activist groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • Now, the ADL largely ignores left-wing antisemitism and hateful rhetoric while exaggerating its presence on the right and blaming the GOP. It has also worked closely with companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and PayPal to increase partisan censorship.

Bottom line: Though X now allows important discourse on transgenderism and other issues, it also allows speech that both sides of the aisle consider immoral. Musk will have to grapple with the extent of his support for free speech as he strives to be advertiser-friendly.

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