#BanTheADL Trends on X, Fueled by Musk

Sep 4, 2023 2:20 pm | Ticker, Virtual Jerusalem

Elon wonders whether the Anti-Defamation League will sue him for defaming them

Recent events have catapulted the hashtag #BanTheADL to the forefront of the social media platform ‘X’, formerly known as Twitter. Elon Musk, mogul behind SpaceX, Tesla, the Boring Company and now owner of ‘X’, has seemingly thrown his weight behind the hashtag, stirring the pot by supporting a poll on the question and generating huge attention in so doing.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a long-standing Jewish organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate, is at the center of this online firestorm. The spark? A meeting between ADL’s national director Jonathan Greenblatt and Linda Yaccarino, CEO of ‘X’. The two discussed the ongoing challenges related to hate speech on the platform.

Greenblatt later tweeted about the meeting, expressing optimism and stating that the ADL would “be vigilant and give her and @ElonMusk credit if the service gets better… and reserve the right to call them out until it does.” This tweet, however, was subsequently deleted, though not before it was archived and published by media outlets.

The tweet, combined with Greenblatt’s mentions of the ADL’s historic ties with movements such as Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, became fodder for the campaign against the increasingly left-leaning League. Many critics, particularly those with right-wing inclinations, have accused the ADL of suppressing free speech, and with good reason.

Prominent figures like mixed martial artist Jake Shields and YouTuber Keith Woods amplified the #BanTheADL message. Woods,  connected to well-known white supremacists, voiced support for Musk’s promise to restore free speech on ‘X’ and panned the ADL as an “anti-white hate group”.

Elon Musk’s involvement became a focal point after he responded to Woods’ tweet, suggesting that the ADL was attempting to “strangle X/Twitter.” Musk further proposed a poll on ‘X’ about banning the ADL and opined that while the ADL had previously done commendable work, it had become “overzealous” and had succumbed to a “woke mind virus” in recent years.

Musk’s disgruntlement with the ADL is not new. Reports suggest that he was irked by the ADL’s participation in a call to halt advertising on Twitter until the platform improved its handling of hate speech. This came after Musk had acquired the platform and reinstated figures such as former President Donald Trump, which the ADL had supported banning along with many Trump supporters.

The ADL, however, stands unyielding in the face of the campaign against them, stating the the organization in “unflinching in [their] commitment to fight hate in all its forms.” They tied the recent surge in online hostility to their involvement in the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington, as well as the recent talks with ‘X’s leadership.

Given the influential figures involved and the polarizing nature of the debate, this issue promises to remain in the spotlight for some time. It underscores the challenges platforms face in balancing free speech with the need to curb hate and misinformation.


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