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Elon Musk only cares about his free speech

A judge ruled Elon Musk's social platform was 'punishing' a nonprofit for its free speech.


Steven Asarch


Posted on Mar 25, 2024


On March 15, a judge dismissed an X Corp case alleging that a hate speech watchdog group, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, wrongfully encouraged advertisers to flee the social media platform X. 

The nonprofit posted multiple articles about the platform’s safety, including a June 2023 report that said X “fails to act on 99% of hate posted by Twitter Blue subscribers.” Starting a lawsuit in August 2023, X’s lawyers tried to claim that the nonprofit “cherry-picked” data to claim that X “is overwhelmed with harmful content.”

But in the 52-page ruling, a California judge wrote that “X Corp has not satisfied the court.” The judge added that this “case is about punishing the Defendants for their speech.” 

X Corp’s founder Elon Musk has claimed he is a “free speech absolutist.” When he swallowed up Twitter in 2022, he said in a press release, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”

But judging from his actions, it seems that the only speech he approves of is his own. These days, it’s a mixture of white supremacy dog whistles and the occasional meme. Over the past week, Musk posted a song about the far-right and a chart attempting to tie race to murder rates in NYC. He also shared conspiracy theories about undocumented immigrants from Trump speechwriter Stephen Miller.

His feed is just a never-ending sludge mudslide, with the occasional pat on his back for SpaceX launches, Tesla prices, or tweets done with a “Neuralink telepathy device.” It’s an echo chamber for his strongest acolytes, squabbling in Twitter Blue comment sections to earn back their subscription fee. 

Musk’s whims influence the platform as a whole, even when they just contradict themselves. For example, last week, X suspended journalists who discovered the alleged real name of an anonymous Neo-Nazi cartoonist, Stonetoss. The suspensions came after Stonetoss tweeted for someone with a “direct line” to Musk.

According to WIRED, X didn’t have a “policy related to outing the identity of an anonymous user” before March 20. But now, X’s policy says that X can suspend users for posting “the identity of an anonymous user.”

But X seems to be enforcing this policy unevenly. LibsofTikTok, the transphobic account that Musk has personally shared, could be breaking these new doxxing rules. The account regularly outs LGBTQ+ members, leading to their harassment. Stonetoss and LibsofTikTok fit more closely with Musk’s current anti-immigrant and anti-DEI rhetoric, which could shield them on his platform.

There are other examples of Musk trying to stifle the free speech of those who disagree with him. In April 2023, he limited the reach of the newsletter platform Substack. In September 2023, he threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League. …

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*First Published: Mar 25, 2024, 4:25 pm CDT