Elon Musk site X profiting off Hamas content, House Democrats allege

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More than two dozen House Democrats on Tuesday accused Elon Musk’s X of “profiting off violent content by a terrorist organization” and demanded that he and CEO Linda Yaccarino address Hamas-related content on the social media platform.

“The platform has become a hotbed of misinformation and terrorist propaganda,” wrote the group of 27 Democrats, led by Reps. Dan Goldman of New York and Jamie Raskin of Maryland, in a letter obtained by CNBC.

The already “inexcusable” issue of antisemitic content on X, they wrote, had become “outright indefensible” since the deadly Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel by Hamas militants. The U.S. has labeled Hamas a terror group since 1997.

“Given the many flagrant examples of X profiting off this content, we need detailed answers from X in considering potential legislation that would prevent such activity in the future,” wrote the lawmakers.

They gave Musk and Yaccarino until Dec. 1 to provide “all forms of written communications” related to content moderation for any posts or accounts connected to Hamas.

In addition to the records, the House Democrats asked Yaccarino and Musk to detail how X plans to address Hamas-related content currently on the platform. They also want to know what changes the company “plans to implement to ensure that the harmful spread of terrorist propaganda does not happen again.”

X did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The letter comes as Musk, the world’s richest man, and X, the platform he bought for $44 billion last year, fend off new accusations of antisemitism that are threatening to cut deeply into the company’s ad-based revenue model.

Apple, Disney, and Comcast, the parent company of CNBC, are some of the major brands that paused their online advertising on X last week, after Musk publicly agreed with an antisemitic conspiracy theory that “Jewish communities” were pushing “dialectical hatred against whites.”

“You have said the actual truth,” Musk wrote last Wednesday in response to that post.

The exchange drew fierce condemnation from X users, Wall Street investors and Washington politicos. The White House accused Musk of promoting “antisemitic and racist hate.”

The fallout coincided with a new report from the progressive nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters for America, which accused X of placing ads from major brands next to posts that promoted Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

Musk has vehemently denied allegations that he is bigoted, writing in a post on Sunday that media reports labeling him antisemitic over his rhetoric are “bogus,” and “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“I wish only the best for humanity and a prosperous and exciting future for all,” he wrote.

He has also repeatedly slammed Media Matters as “pure evil” and vowed to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” on Monday against the outlet “and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company.”

Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal advertising chief whom Musk tapped in May as his CEO, said Thursday that X has “been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination.”

Media Matters president Angelo Carusone in a statement Saturday slammed Musk’s legal threat as a “meritless” effort to “silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate.”

The letter from Goldman and Raskin on Tuesday largely avoided personally singling out Musk over his controversial posts.

Instead, the Democrats highlighted numerous X accounts that have reportedly been “spreading Hamas terrorist propaganda videos glorifying barbaric acts of violence against Israelis.”

They cited reports last month from the Tech Transparency Project, or TTP, the research arm of the nonprofit watchdog Campaign for Accountability, and the nonprofit think tank Institute for Strategic Dialogue, or ISD.

The TTP investigation found accounts that paid for X’s Premium service sharing graphic, uncensored videos including “bloodied bodies on the ground, and rocket and drone attacks on Israeli tanks and vehicles.”

Those videos had also been featured on the website of Hamas’ military wing and were posted on X in apparent violation of the company’s content policies, according to TTP.

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An ISD report, meanwhile, identified 128 posts from 45 unique accounts “containing glorification and support for terrorist content on X” in just 24 hours between Oct. 11 and Oct. 12.

Both reports noted that one of the Premium accounts spreading Hamas propaganda and antisemitic messages had been promoted by Musk himself in a since-deleted post.

The reports also showed that X is “profiting from the spread of this gruesome and harmful propaganda through account subscription fees and ad revenue,” the lawmakers wrote.

By buying X Premium, the accounts identified in the TPP and ISD reports are “paying for verification without any formalized vetting process and being promoted by the website’s algorithm,” the Democrats wrote.

The letter also cited a mid-October report from the misinformation tracker NewsGuard, which analyzed 250 high-engagement posts that promoted false or unproven claims related to the Israel-Hamas War. it found that 186 of the 250 came from accounts that had paid for Premium verification.

Sumber: www.cnbc.com

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