Law Dogging

It's easy to lose track of the endless torrent of chaos and scandals since multihyphenate billionaire Elon Musk bought the social network Twitter and changed its name to X.

But a particular court ruling today stands out as an example of how Musk's bluster often now seems to amount to nothing in the long term. Remember back in 2023, when X sued the nonprofit researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) after it released a report finding that hateful content was proliferating under Musk's rule?

Well, a judge just threw out the suit — and absolutely excoriated X for what he characterized as bullying tactics toward the nonprofit in a legal document that pulled no punches.

"Sometimes it is unclear what is driving a litigation," wrote US District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Charles Breyer. "Other times, a complaint is so unabashedly and vociferously about one thing that there can be no mistaking that purpose."

"This case represents the latter circumstance," Breyer continued. "This case is about punishing the Defendants for their speech."

Platform and Void

Relatedly, Breyer also pointed to a clear irony: that though Musk has championed free speech on the platform, the suit seems intended to shut down CCDH's speech. In other words, he seems drawn to discourse about free speech only when it benefits him personally.

"It is impossible to read the complaint and not conclude that X Corp. is far more concerned about CCDH’s speech than it is its data collection methods," he wrote.

CCDH — which has continued to release new research about X as the case moved through the legal system — is celebrating the ruling and pledging to continue its work.

"We hope this landmark ruling will embolden public-interest researchers everywhere to continue, and even intensify, their vital work of holding social media companies accountable for the hate and disinformation they host and the harm they cause," said the outfit's CEO and founder Imran Ahmed.

X, though, is clearly seething.

"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," the company wrote in a post. "X disagrees with the court’s decision and plans to appeal."

The decision may not bode well for X's similar case against Media Matters, which also explored the growth of extremism under Musk's ownership.

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