▶ Watch Video: Researchers find hate speech has increased on Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover

A group of 100 Jewish leaders, including some prominent rabbis and academics, released a public letter criticizing X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, and its owner Elon Musk for enabling a “new stage of antisemetic discourse.” 

According to the letter, the group’s concerns began with Musk’s takeover of the site in October 2022. Musk has been criticized for allowing previously banned users back onto the platform, including Andrew TateKanye West and some notorious neo-Nazi figures, and for reducing content moderation on the site. Musk — who has said he wants to promote “free speech” — has also floated the idea of removing the site’s “block” feature

Musk has also shared multiple posts that the group described as antisemitic, and they noted he has liked or platformed other such comments. 

Recently, Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that fights antisemitism and extremism, blaming its criticism of hate speech on the platform for X’s slumping ad sales. The letter said Musk targeted the ADL “as a very clear stand-in for antisemitic representation of Jewish power.” 

“We have watched in horror as a new stage in antisemitic discourse has spread like wildfire on one of America’s largest social media networks,” the letter says. “All of this has been facilitated and enabled by its owner: Elon Musk. We are speaking of course of X (formerly Twitter), which since his takeover has become a breeding ground for some of the most dangerous antisemitic discourse in America. It has made fringe figures mainstream, spread conspiracy theories that endanger Jews, reinstated neo-Nazis and other antisemites, and destroyed the content moderation that once kept things like Holocaust denial and hate speech minimized.” 

The letter also cited examples of Musk “engaging in antisemitic conspiracy theories.” That behavior, the letter said, has meant that “antisemitic discourse has doubled on X” — and possibly increased even further due to recent comments from Musk. 

Elon Musk addresses Twitter controversies


In a statement to CBS News, the group behind the letter said that Musk’s “antisemitism is far more dangerous than most people know, and we are here to insist that it be portrayed as the urgent danger it is.” 

In 2022, researchers from Montclair State University found an “immediate, visible, and measurable spike” in “vulgar and hostile” rhetoric aimed at people based on their race, religion, ethnicity and orientation in the 12 hours after Musk took over the site. Data from the Center for Countering Digital Hate released in December 2022 showed slurs against Black people tripled the 2022 average after Musk’s takeover, while slurs against members of the LGBTQ+ community rose by 58%. 

“In short, X has become a breeding ground for antisemitism and represents one of the largest dangers to Jews in years. If something does not change, we know what will happen: hate speech and radicalization are always the precursor to violence,” the letter said. 

The letter included several calls to action, including asking organizations to end their relationships with Musk’s various companies, including Tesla and SpaceX. The letter also urged large advertisers stop spending money to advertise on X, and that Google and Apple remove the app from their app stores. 

“Elon Musk has shown a refusal to back down from the danger he poses to Jews and other minorities and vulnerable communities. Appealing to him directly, as the ADL and others have, has been an abject failure,” the letter said. “Outside pressure that hits him where it hurts is the only effective measure. Not doing so will mean the further spread of extremism and antisemitism. Those don’t just threaten Jews: they threaten a free society and all those affected by the conspiracy theories tied to antisemitism.” 

CBS News reached out to X for comment and received an automatic message reading: “Busy now, please check back later.” In July, Musk posted that press and media inquiries would receive such messages in an “infinite loop” of non-answers. It’s a change from the previous auto-reply, which responded to such inquiries with a poop emoji.