Twitter threatens to sue anti-hate group over its research

The organization claims Elon Musk is using intimidation tactics.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

X Corp (aka Twitter) may take legal action against one of its more outspoken critics. The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) says in a letter that X threatened a lawsuit against the anti-hate group on July 20th for allegedly making "false or misleading" claims against the social media giant and trying to scare advertisers. The Center published a research article in June asserting that X allowed explicitly racist and homophobic posts despite policies to the contrary, even days after they'd been reported.

X accused CCDH of using poor methodology, and not studying the 500 million posts on the service each day. It also maintained that the Center was taking funding from competitors or foreign governments as part of an "ulterior agenda," according to The New York Times. CCDH rejects the allegations. It notes that it never claimed to be conducting a comprehensive study, and points to its documented methodology. It adds that X never said just what was inaccurate, and that it doesn't accept any funding from companies or governments.

The researchers further maintain that X is being hypocritical for attacking supposedly limited research while simultaneously curbing the ability to conduct those studies. The platform recently instituted reading rate limits in what it says is a temporary measure to thwart excessive data scraping. The company believes some scrapers are abusing their tools to train AI models and conduct manipulation campaigns. Even Blue subscribers are capped at viewing 8,000 posts per day, making it impractical to conduct extensive research.

X has disbanded its communications team and isn't available for comment. CCDH says it "will not be bullied" and will continue publishing its research. It also intends to post the original letter, and believes a lawsuit with "frivolous" claims could prove risky.

Reports indicate that X's ad sales have plunged by half since Musk bought the company last year. The executive pinned the exodus on European and North American marketers trying to deliberately bankrupt the firm, but employees talking to the NYT maintained that advertisers were balking at the surges in hate speech and porn after Musk's acquisition. Brands like GM and Volkswagen have frozen ad spending on X, while others are believed to have scaled back their efforts.

X has been threatening legal action against others in recent weeks. It accused Microsoft of violating data use policy, and threatened to sue Meta for purportedly duping key features with Threads. The tech giant has also sued a law firm for supposedly taking excess funds during the previous management's handover to Musk.