In recent months, X Corp (aka Twitter), the social media platform, has found itself embroiled in controversy surrounding the alleged increase in hate speech on its platform since Elon Musk’s acquisition. The Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has published several reports claiming a rise in harmful content on the app. In response, X Corp has taken legal action against the CCDH, seeking to dispute the validity of their findings and protect their brand reputation.
The Rise of Hate Speech Allegations: The CCDH has been at the forefront of reporting the apparent surge in hate speech on X Corp’s platform following Elon Musk’s takeover. The group’s reports have highlighted an increase in slurs against marginalized communities, such as Black and transgender people. Additionally, the CCDH alleges that Twitter Blue subscribers’ rule-breaking tweets often go unaddressed, and tweets containing derogatory terms against the LGBTQ+ community continue to remain active.
X Corp’s Freedom of Speech, Not Reach Approach: In response to these claims, X Corp has adopted a new “Freedom of Speech, Not Reach” approach, which emphasizes leaving tweets up rather than removing them. While this aligns with the platform’s stance on free speech, it has also raised concerns among brand partners about brand safety. Advertisers may become hesitant to associate their brands with a platform perceived to harbor hate speech.
Taking Legal Action: Faced with the threat to its brand reputation and ad partnerships, X Corp has decided to challenge the CCDH’s findings in court. Elon Musk and his legal team aim to uncover the identities behind the CCDH and refute their allegations. The motivation behind this legal action is likely to restore advertiser confidence and combat negative media coverage.
Limitations of Third-Party Assessments: Both X Corp and Meta, another social media giant, have criticized the CCDH’s reports for their limited scope. Third-party assessments can only analyze a fraction of posts, which may not fully represent the platform’s overall performance in mitigating hate speech. X Corp and Meta argue that conclusions drawn from these limited assessments should be viewed with caution.
X Corp’s Reluctance to Share Detailed Data: The CCDH and others have challenged X Corp to release comprehensive data supporting their claims of a significant reduction in hate speech impressions. While X Corp’s assessment partner, Sprinklr, has introduced a more nuanced approach to identifying hate speech, critics argue that 86% of posts containing hate speech terms not being harmful is difficult to believe without transparent data.
The Need for Greater Transparency: To counter the CCDH’s claims and instill confidence in its ad partners, X Corp could provide a detailed report showcasing its actual enforcement actions and the methodology used to arrive at its 99.99% figure. By offering greater transparency, the platform could substantiate its claims and address concerns regarding hate speech effectively.
X Corp’s decision to take legal action against the CCDH underscores the growing concerns surrounding hate speech on social media platforms. The legal battle has highlighted the need for greater transparency and comprehensive data sharing to address accusations of harmful content effectively. As the case unfolds, it remains to be seen how this high-stakes confrontation will impact X Corp’s relationship with advertisers and the larger debate on freedom of speech versus platform responsibility.