Updated Mar 25, 2024 - Business

X's lawsuit against hate speech watchdog group tossed by judge

Elon Musk in Gruenheide, Germany, on March 13.

Elon Musk in Gruenheide, Germany, on March 13. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in California threw out a lawsuit filed by X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, against a hate speech watchdog on Monday.

Why it matters: The judge ruled the lawsuit was intended to punish the Center for Countering Digital Hate for publishing research suggesting there has been a rise in bigoted speech on the platform since Elon Musk's takeover.

Context: Through the lawsuit, X claimed that the Center for Countering Digital Hate used "flawed methodologies to advance incorrect, misleading narratives" in its reports.

  • It accused the center of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, intentional interference with contractual relations and inducing breach of contract.
  • The center denied those claims and accused X and Musk of retaliating against it because of its reports.

What's inside: The judge ruled on Monday that the lawsuit was "unabashedly and vociferously" about "punishing the Defendants for their speech."

  • The judge approved the center's request to throw out the lawsuit based on California's anti-SLAPP law, which provides defendants a way to quickly dismiss meritless lawsuits if they are being sued for actions that amount to them exercising their freedom of speech, press, assembly or petition.
  • In addition to tossing the case, the judge also denied X Corp.'s request to re-plead the case.

What they're saying: The center said the ruling "sent a strong message about seeking to censor those who criticize social media companies, which we are confident will resonate throughout Silicon Valley and beyond."

  • "Today a federal court in San Francisco issued a decision in the case X brought against the Center for Countering Digital Hate for illegally obtaining platform data to create misleading research. X disagrees with the court's decision and plans to appeal," X said in a post on the social media platform.

Between the lines: Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech "absolutist," has repeatedly claimed that he would protect all forms of speech on Twitter.

Go deeper: Meta shuts down data tool widely used by journalists

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include responses from the Center for Countering Digital Hate and X.

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