An online campaign to ban the Anti-Defamation League from X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has gone viral several times over the weekend while owner Elon Musk has signaled that he supports the proposal. But Musk took his rhetoric to even more extreme places on Monday while responding to a far-right activist who describes himself as a “raging anti-semite.”
“The ADL, because they are so aggressive in their demands to ban social media accounts for even minor infractions, are ironically the biggest generators of anti-Semitism on this platform!” Musk tweeted early Monday, somehow suggesting that Jews are to blame for anti-semitism.
The ADL is an activist group that fights anti-semitic hate speech and has long been a thorn in the side of people who hate Jews. There’s a long history of anti-semites claiming Jews are actually to blame for anti-semitism. The Nazis often used this line of argument in propaganda of the 1930s and ‘40s.
Musk’s tweet on Monday was in response to Keith Woods, a white nationalist from Ireland who has previously called himself a “raging anti-semite” in a since-deleted tweet from 2019.
“Alex Jones doesn’t want to #BanTheADL because ‘they’re the most pro-Hitler organisation I’ve ever seen’,” Woods tweeted.
Musk’s relationship with far-right voices on X have gotten more attention ever since he purchased Twitter in October 2022 and made a number of changes to the platform. Musk has defended a number of racists, including Dilbert creator Scott Adams when he advocated for racial segregation, which has caused many major advertisers to become nervous about brand safety on the site.
Some advertisers on X were reportedly nervous to even be seen in the same room as Musk during a marketing conference in April, according to emails that leaked in the lead up to the event. Musk appeared at that conference to be interviewed by Linda Yaccarino, who would later be hired away from NBCUniversal in a bid to calm worries from advertisers on Twitter. It’s unclear how successful that campaign has been since Musk has acknowledged advertising revenue is down by about 50% over the past year.
The ADL has found an increase in hate speech on X since Musk bought the site and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt recently had a discussion with CEO Linda Yaccarino about the problem. Greenblatt tweeted about his discussion with Yaccarino on August 30.
“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 tweeted, according to the Jerusalem 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,” Greenblatt continued.
That tweet has since been deleted, though it’s not exactly clear why. Yaccarino’s response is still available on the site.
“A strong and productive partnership is built on good intentions and candor. Thank you Jonathan,” Yaccarino tweeted.
Musk’s apparent obsession with the ADL has continued for several days, even suggesting that perhaps an online poll would be useful to see if the organization should be banned from X. When a large account known as Wall Street Silver described the ADL as one of many “radical left wing hate groups,” Musk implicitly endorsed the idea with a tweet reading, “It would be difficult to describe them as centrist.”
X did not respond to emailed question about Musk’s tweets on Monday. I’ll update this article if I hear back.
Update, 2:20 p.m. ET: Musk just tweeted to say that he’s for free speech but against anti-semitism.
It’s still unclear why Musk responds to so many anti-semites on his social media platform if he’s against anti-semitism.