Source: X/X

Canadian legislators entertained the leader of an international “anti-hate” activist organization that X CEO Elon Musk blamed for a $100 million loss in advertising revenue after he took over the platform in 2022. 

The CEO and founder of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, Imran Ahmed, appeared before the House of Commons justice committee this month advocating for increased regulation of social media platforms. 

Ahmed’s call to action comes amid ongoing tensions with Musk, who had faced significant scrutiny after acquiring X, formerly known as Twitter.

Ahmed proudly recounted a study by his organization that, according to Musk, led to a substantial financial impact on the company.

“We did a study when Elon Musk took over X, that went on the front page of the New York Times, which led him to lose $100 million—he claims—of advertising. I know this because Mr. Musk and the X Corporation then sued us at the Center for Countering Digital Hate for having done the research—for having had the temerity to do the research,” said Ahmed. 

Despite Ahmed’s claims, Musk has continued to champion his vision for X, pushing back against what he perceives as unfair attacks on his company. Musk has repeatedly questioned the validity of Ahmed’s study and has maintained that his stewardship has not led to increased hate speech on the platform.

According to Musk, Ahmed’s research counted the number of hate-related tweets on the platform but did not take into account the number of impressions. Data released by Musk showed that the number of views hate speech tweets received was on the decline despite user growth. 

While testifying, Ahmed said he wanted more power for governments to be able to punish companies over the content hosted on social media platforms. Ahmed suggested requiring social media companies to open up their algorithms and making them responsible for hate attacks by users. He urged the introduction of legislation similar to what’s in place in Europe, allowing takedown orders for offending content.  

“At a systemic level, Canada should have the ability to tell them to clean up their act or it will impose costs on them for their failure to act,” said Ahmed. 

“With social media, we have a crisis of inaction by those companies. They feel no pressure. It’s time to ratchet up the pressure.”

X announced its intention to appeal a U.S. court decision dismissing its lawsuit against Ahmed’s organization. The lawsuit, filed last July, accused the organization of conducting a smear campaign that unlawfully accessed data to damage X’s relationship with advertisers, resulting in significant revenue losses.

The California court, however, found that the lawsuit appeared to be an attempt to “punish” the nonprofit.