SWC’s Associate Dean Joins Other Experts in Unprecedented Live Dialogue with Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Free Speech, Anti-Semitism on Social Media Platform

September 29, 2023

Musk Urged to Adopt IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

Elon Musk, accused by some Jewish organizations of trafficking in anti-Semitism on his social media platform, called himself “aspirationally Jewish” during a wide-ranging nearly two-hour live chat Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

Close to 245,000 people tuned in to listen to the live dialogue which featured a lineup of leading Jewish figures including Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC’s Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director.

There have been multiple claims in recent months that anti-Semitism on X has been spiking since Musk acquired the company. Musk has emphatically denied being anti-Semitic. On Thursday, he went further, saying, “In some respects I think I am Jewish, basically,” owing to what he said was his large proportion of Jewish friends.

In his ten-minute segment with Musk, Rabbi Cooper emphasized that “the problem is not “Free Speech” per se, but the marketing and recruitment of anti-Semitism and bigotry by hate groups on powerful social media platforms, including X.” He noted that SWC researchers continue to find anti-Semitic posts on Twitter. Rabbi Cooper offered to dispatch the Center’s two top experts to X headquarters to suggest ways to bolster algorithms to address the ongoing problems. The Center recently conducted its 2023 study of digital terrorism and hate on social platforms and graded Twitter a D-, putting it on par with Russia’s VK as the worst in the world for large social networks.

On various occasions, Rabbi Cooper has called on Musk to meet with him to discuss the rise of hate speech on Twitter. The SWC continues to press Musk to adopt the widely accepted IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and apply it to degrade the marketing capabilities of anti-Semites on the social media platform. Earlier this year, the SWC spearheaded the effort, sending Musk a letter, together with 180 Jewish groups, urging him to adopt the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism: https://www.adoptihra.org/twitterletter

“Today, everyone acknowledges that social media platforms serve as accelerants in spreading the cancer of anti-Semitic hate, lies, misinformation, and conspiracies. In 2023, Elon Musk has both the responsibility and power to degrade the marketing capacity of online anti-Semites leveraging X’s powerful platform. “How Elon Musk deals with the ongoing challenge of bigotry on X’s platform will certainly influence other social media companies. We hope he will take the lead.”

Rabbi Cooper also shared with Musk, a 1980 warning from Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. When asked during a university lecture if the Holocaust could happen again, he replied: “If you have organized hate, a crisis in society,  plus technology, anything is possible.”

For further information contact the Center’s Communications department at pressinquiries@wiesenthal.com, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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