Anti-Hate Speech Group Seeks Reimbursement From Musk For Failed Lawsuit

The watchdog Center for Countering Digital Hate is seeking around $320,000 in attorneys' fees from Elon Musk's X Corp, which unsuccessfully sued the nonprofit for issuing critical reports that allegedly scared away advertisers.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer in the Northern District of California dismissed X's lawsuit last month, ruling that X brought the case to penalize the watchdog for its speech.

He threw out the case under California's anti-SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) law, which entitles defendants to speedy dismissals of claims based on speech about matters of public interest, and also allows defendants to recover attorneys' fees.

“This case is about punishing the defendants for their speech,” Breyer wrote, noting that X separately sued the watchdog Media Matters over its reports about content on the platform.

“If there is any question about the 'punishing' part, X Corp. filed a similar suit ... in November of 2023 against Media Matters, another non-profit media watchdog,” the judge wrote.



On Monday, the nonprofit filed a motion asking Breyer to order X to pay attorneys' fees of $318,158 for around 500 hours of legal work related to the anti-SLAPP arguments.

The legal battle between X and the nonprofit began last August, when the researchers isued a report that accused the platform of failing to remove racist, homophobic and antisemitic comments posted by Twitter Blue subscribers. That report cited several examples, such as the posts “Diversity is a codeword for White Genocide,” and “Trannies are pedophiles.”

X -- which has lost significant ad revenue since its 2022 acquisition by Musk -- didn't deny that those posts were on the platform, but accused the group of cherry picking its examples in order to scare off advertisers.

The platform claimed in its lawsuit that the anti-hate speech organization wrongly scraped data in order to “cherry-pick” posts and “falsely claim it had statistical support showing the platform is overwhelmed with harmful content.”

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