Elon Musk meets with 'civil society leaders' as they hold Twitter ad dollars hostage over 'hate speech' concerns

Musk said the meeting was also to create strategies that would create election integrity policies.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

Twitter owner Elon Musk met with a group of civil society leaders made up of far leftists in what he says was a meeting to help Twitter in its fight against "hate and harassment."

Musk said the meeting was also to create strategies that would create election integrity policies.

The leaders included the CEO of the ADL Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL Vice President Yael Eisenstat, Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, Free Press CEO and Facebook Oversight board member Jessica Gonzalez, Asian American Foundation CEO Norman Chen, NAACP President and CEP Derrick Johnson, and others.

A statement from members who attended the meeting stated that prior to the meeting with Musk, "Free Press, Media Matters for America and Accountable Tech organized a mass sign-on letter in which nearly 50 civil-society groups called on Twitter's top-20 advertisers to demand that Musk commit to brand and user safety.

The open letter urges advertisers to "suspend Twitter ads globally if Musk can’t commit to enforcing the brand- and community-safety rules already on the platform’s books." 

Already a major ad brokerage, IPG, has advised clients, including American Express, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson, to pause advertising on Twitter for the next week until the company gives more details about its plans to protect trust and safety.

Members of the group that met with Musk, however, have been criticized for promoting fake causes and pushing far-left causes as well as censorship, which Musk has previously publicly denounced.

The NAACP President Derrick Johnson, for example, criticized Greg Abbott in a tweet that suggested that he was a white supremacist

Yael Eisenstat of the ADL has even been critical of the idea that boards are the solution to moderating websites like Twitter or Facebook. In January of 2021, Eisenstat tweeted that Facebook's Oversight Board was not the best mechanism to address issues of misinformation on the site.

Derrick Johnson of the NAACP asked athletes to boycott Texas, telling professional athletes to avoid signing in the state.

The Federalist reported that Rashad Robinson, president of the leftist group Color of Change, repeatedly tweeted his support for Smollet after the "Empire" actor falsely claimed to be the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime in 2019. At the time, Smollett claimed two assailants beat him up while screaming, "This is MAGA country."

Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. Gonzalez, who attended the Musk meeting, said in a statement:

"Yesterday, I joined colleagues in a frank conversation with Elon Musk. I shared my concerns that hate, harassment and conspiracy theories proliferate on the platform, and underscored the disproportionate harm that unmoderated social-media spaces inflict on women and people of color. I asked him to retain and fully enforce election-integrity measures.

"We had a productive discussion, and as Musk’s Twitter thread demonstrates, he made a few commitments. First, he agreed that he would not put anyone kicked off Twitter for violating its trust and safety rules back on the platform before the U.S. midterm elections next week; and he promised that any replatforming following the election will involve a transparent process. Second, he agreed to retain and enforce election-integrity measures and assured us that all staff responsible for this work would have access to Twitter’s tools by the end of this week. Finally, he promised that he would consult with civil- and human-rights experts and those who have been targeted online as he develops new content-moderation policies.

"These commitments are a good first step but really just the beginning of a long process. As the report Free Press published last week shows, hate, abuse and conspiracy theories are rampant on Twitter. There is much more to do to make Twitter a space for robust and healthy dialogue. And of course, actions speak louder than words. We’ll be evaluating Musk closely and assessing whether he backs up his promises.

"With our four-dozen partners, we will continue to pressure Twitter’s largest advertisers to push Musk to retain and actually enforce existing content-moderation rules and community standards. If Musk won’t prioritize safety on the platform, then advertisers should refuse to spend money to see their content alongside lies, harassment and extremism.

"We must act immediately to disrupt the real-world violence that social-media companies have helped fuel, including the violent attack against Nancy Pelosi’s husband, the mass shooting targeting Latinos at an El Paso Texas Walmart, the shootings at Black churches and Jewish temples, the violence against Muslims, and so much more. This is about our communities’ ability to speak freely, yes, but also to live free from hate-fueled violence.”


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