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  • Khushboo Pareek

US judge tosses Musk lawsuit against transparency group, upholds right to speech


 

A US court has tossed a lawsuit filed by Elon Musk's X against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), deeming it as an attempt to penalise the non-profit body for its speech.


The lawsuit, initiated in July 2023, accused the CCDH of conducting a fearmongering campaign to deter advertisers from the platform, resulting in substantial losses in ad revenue for X.


The lawsuit also alleged that the CCDH violated X's terms of service by illicitly gathering data to produce reports that were baseless and inaccurate.


CCDH is an organisation focused on identifying and combating hate speech on the internet.


Last year, the NGO in an article alleged that X neglected to address hateful content from 99 per cent of its premium users and that the platform failed to promptly address more than 200 instances of overtly racist and anti-semitic posts.


Federal Judge Charles Breyer in a ruling on Monday wrote that X’s "motivation in bringing this case is evident," and that the company's goal is to "punish CCDH for CCDH publications that criticized X Corp. — and perhaps in order to dissuade others" from criticizing X in the future.


"If CCDH’s publications were defamatory, that would be one thing, but X Corp. has carefully avoided saying that they are," the filing read.


"Sometimes it is unclear what is driving a litigation, and only by reading between the lines of a complaint can one attempt to surmise a plaintiff’s true purpose. Other times, a complaint is so unabashedly and vociferously about one thing that there can be no mistaking that purpose.


"This case represents the latter circumstance. This case is about punishing the Defendants for their speech," Judge Breyer wrote, dismissing X's claim.


CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed in a statement said, "We hope this landmark ruling will embolden public-interest researchers everywhere to continue, and even intensify, their vital work of holding social media companies accountable for the hate and disinformation they host and the harm they cause."


In November last year, X also initiated a lawsuit against the non-profit body Media Matters. The legal action followed a report published by Media Matters, alleging that X had displayed advertisements for prominent brands alongside pro-Nazi content.

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