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Elon Musk ‘likes’ trending #BanTheADL posts as white supremacist ad runs on platform
September 15, 2023

Elon Musk ‘likes’ trending #BanTheADL posts as white supremacist ad runs on platform

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Anti-Semitic rhetoric has been especially rampant on the platform over the past 24 hours.

Over the past 24 hours, the hashtag #BanTheADL has been trending on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. The trending hashtag refers to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish anti-extremism civil rights organization.

Even more concerning is that X owner Elon Musk has signaled support for the attacks against the ADL on the platform.

Within the same time frame, numerous X users have also reported being served an X-approved advertisement on the platform that promotes white supremacy.

It all started on Thursday when ADL Director Jonathan Greenblatt published a post on X which shared that he had a ‘productive conversation’ with the company’s CEO Linda Yaccarino about hate speech on the platform.

‘I had a very frank + productive conversation with @LindayaX yesterday about @X, what works and what doesn’t, and where it needs to go to address hate effectively on the platform,’ Greenblatt posted in a since-deleted post. ‘I appreciated her reaching out and I’m hopeful the service will improve. @ADL will be vigilant and give her and @ElonMusk credit if the service gets better… and reserve the right to call them out until it does.’

‘A strong and productive partnership is built on good intentions and candor. Thank you Jonathan,’ replied Yaccarino, who was personally hired by Musk in May.

Almost immediately, hordes of the platform’s right-wing users descended on the ADL director’s post, voicing their disapproval of the discussion with anti-Semitic rhetoric.

It appears Greenblatt soon deleted his tweet and reposted it with the ability for users to reply turned off.

Tweet may have been deleted

However, the blowback from far-right users on X continued. The #BanTheADL hashtag was quickly boosted not only by right-wing users of the platform but also by notable far-right personalities like white supremacist Nick Fuentes and Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA. Fuentes explicitly called for his followers to help make the hashtag trend on both his livestream show as well as his Telegram channel.

#BanTheADL has since become a top-trending topic on X. As of publishing time, it was the second biggest trend in the United States on the platform with more than 100,000 posts.

Musk himself soon began liking anti-ADL posts in support of the #BanTheADL hashtag, just hours after the ADL had said it had a fruitful discussion with representatives of his company. Musk specifically began liking content from Keith Woods, an anti-Semitic YouTuber with ties to white nationalist Richard Spencer. Woods was a speaker at the white supremacist American Renaissance Conference just last month. He also runs a livestream on Fuentes’s own video platform, Cozy TV. Woods had been previously banned on Twitter but was reinstated under the platform just a few months after Musk took over.

Musk even took it one step further and replied to one of Wood’s anti-ADL tweets.

‘ADL has tried very hard to strangle X/Twitter,’ he said.

While this was unfolding, users on X also began noticing a white supremacist advertisement was being served to them on the platform. A verified user subscribed to X Premium, the paid subscription service formerly known as Twitter Blue, was paying for a post to be promoted across X that shared white supremacist rhetoric.

The post included an image containing the ‘14 words,’ a reference to a slogan popular among white supremacists.

‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,’ reads the image, attributing the quote to David Lane, the white supremacist who created the slogan. 

The user running the ad included the call-to-action ‘follow if you agree’ on the post. The post was shown with the official ‘ad’ or ‘promoted’ labels, meaning it was running through X’s official advertising platform.  At the time of publishing, the account had just under 2,000 followers and the ad had accrued nearly 200,000 impressions.

Musk had previously talked to the ADL along with other concerned civil rights groups shortly after he acquired Twitter. Musk himself received criticism over those talks from his right-wing followers. However, talks between Musk and the civil rights groups quickly turned sour with Musk canceling proposed plans for a ‘moderation council.’ 

The ADL, along with other civil rights groups, had called for brands to stop advertising on the platform until Musk and company properly addressed hate speech and other content moderation concerns. Since Musk’s takeover, some brands have fled the platform entirely, while others have pulled back on ad spends. The company had lost half of its largest advertisers in the months following Musk’s acquisition and have continued to struggle with wooing them back. (Interestingly, the progressive Jewish news outlet Forward recently reported that the ADL seemingly began once again advertising on X itself just last month.)

Early last month, Musk followed through with a legal threat against once such anti-hate and extremism research group, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). X filed a lawsuit against the organization seeking damages over alleged ad sales losses as a result of the CCDH’s work.

An ADL spokesperson provided MediaDownloader with the following statement regarding the trending #BanTheADL hashtag campaign on X:

‘ADL is unsurprised yet undeterred that antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls have launched a coordinated attack on our organization. This type of thing is nothing new. 

This onslaught comes following our participation in the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington, where ADL proudly marched shoulder-to-shoulder with African-American leaders and those from other minority communities. It also follows a meeting with the leadership of X, formerly known as Twitter, that clearly upset these hateful groups. 

Such insidious efforts don’t daunt us. Instead, they drive us to be unflinching in our commitment to fight hate in all its forms and ensure the safety of Jewish communities and other marginalized groups.’


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