Twitter war

Musk threatens to sue ADL for defamation for pushing companies not to advertise on X

Anti-Defamation League says it won't comment on legal threats, but says 'insidious efforts' to hamper its work 'don't daunt us'

Elon Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League for defamation on Monday evening, saying the organization is “trying to kill” his social media platform, X, previously known as Twitter, by accusing it and him of antisemitism, which he said caused a major drop in advertising revenues.

In a series of tweets, Musk said the ADL applied pressure on companies to not advertise on the social media platform. “Our US advertising revenue is still down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL (that’s what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter!” Musk wrote in a post. Separately, he said the ADL was responsible for $22 billion in damages — half of what the company was worth when he purchased it.

“To clear our platform’s name on the matter of anti-Semitism [sic], it looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League … oh the irony!” Musk said, adding that while he’s “pro free speech,” he’s against antisemitism “of any kind.”

In response to Musk’s threats, the ADL told eJP: “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on legal threats.” 

However, a spokesperson for the organization added that a recent campaign on X by “antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls” to “#BanTheADL” followed the organization’s participation in last month’s 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, as well as a meeting between ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, last week, both of which the organization said must have “upset these hateful groups.”

“Such insidious efforts don’t daunt us. Instead, they drive us to be unflinching in our commitment to fight hate in all its forms and ensure the safety of Jewish communities and other marginalized groups,” the ADL said.

The organization has not publicly accused Musk of being an antisemite; it has criticized him personally for permitting the rapper Ye back onto the site after he was banned for posting explicitly antisemitic content. In November, the organization called for advertisers to “pause Twitter spending” because of a significant increase in the amount of antisemitic and racist content on the platform since Musk took control of the company last year.

Following last week’s meeting, Greenblatt said the discussion was “very frank [and] productive” about “what works and what doesn’t, and where it needs to go to address hate effectively on the platform.” He added that the ADL would “ be vigilant and give her and [Elon Musk] credit if the service gets better… and reserve the right to call them out until it does.”
X is already suing another hate speech watchdog, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which it also accuses of hurting its ad revenue by documenting a rise in bigoted content on the platform.