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Musk’s insinuation to sue over defamation is merely a ‘threat of a frivolous lawsuit’


Harun Ozalp | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Elon Musk’s recent comments insinuating that the real-time messaging service formerly known as Twitter could file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League is merely a “threat of a frivolous lawsuit,” the nonprofit’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said Tuesday.

In a statement shared with CNBC, Greenblatt dismissed allegations Musk made over the Labor Day weekend, in which he claimed the ADL was “trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic.” The nonprofit’s CEO added that Musk’s “behavior is not just alarming nor reckless.”

“It is flat out dangerous and deeply irresponsible,” Greenblatt said. “We need responsible leaders to lead, to stop inflaming hatred and to step back from the brink before it’s too late.”

The ADL chief’s comments come after Musk claimed on Monday that the ADL was responsible for putting “pressure on advertisers” that led to a 60% drop in X’s advertising revenue. Musk alleged that the ADL “has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic,” ever since he bought the messaging service last fall in a deal worth roughly $44 billion.

Musk said X, the company formerly known as Twitter, would have “no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit” if the ADL continues to allegedly pressure advertisers.

Multiple civil rights groups and researchers have documented a rise in hate speech, racist comments and other inflammatory posts on X after Musk gained control of the messaging app last fall.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate nonprofit, for instance, published a report in June that claimed X failed to take action against several subscribers of Twitter Blue, now referred to as X Premium, when they posted inflammatory content.

In August, X sued the CCDH in federal court alleging that the nonprofit illegally obtained data from X using methods like data scraping to “falsely claim it had statistical support showing the platform is overwhelmed with harmful content.” X’s attorneys alleged that the CCDH’s studies were based upon “flawed methodologies” and caused advertisers to stop running promotional campaigns on the messaging service, thus damaging X’s business.

Last week, Greenblatt said in an X post that he had a “very frank + productive conversation” with newly appointed X CEO Linda Yaccarino on how “to address hate effectively on the platform,” adding that he “appreciated her reaching out and I’m hopeful the service will improve.”

Greenblatt said he would give both the former global advertising chief at NBCUniversal and Musk “credit if the service gets better… and reserve the right to call them out until it does.”

Shortly after Greenblatt commented about his conversation, #BanTheADL began trending on X as some users called for the nonprofit to be banned from the messaging platform. For instance, Nick Fuentes, a far-right livestreamer who has previously made antisemitic comments, urged his viewers to contribute to the #BanTheADL campaign.

Musk then began engaging with some of the anti-ADL posts on X, liking some of the comments and even responding to them.

“ADL has tried very hard to strangle X/Twitter,” Musk said, replying to the YouTube streamer Keith Woods, who the ADL has previously said has produced antisemitic content.

“It is profoundly disturbing that Elon Musk spent the weekend engaging with a highly toxic, antisemitic campaign on his platform — a campaign started by an unrepentant bigot that then was heavily promoted by individuals such as white supremacist Nick Fuentes, Christian nationalist Andrew Torba, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and others,” Greenblatt said. “Finally, we saw the campaign manifest in the real world when masked men marched in Florida on Saturday brazenly waving flags adorned with swastikas and chanting ‘Ban the ADL.'”

X did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

Watch: X Corp. CEO Yaccarino: We’re keeping an eye on everything that Threads is doing.

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