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More than two dozen Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday accused Elon Musk’s X of “profiting from the violent content of 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 disinformation 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 anti-Semitic content on X, they wrote, has become “flatly indefensible” since the deadly October 7 terrorist attack in Israel by Hamas militants. The United States has designated Hamas a terrorist group since 1997.
“Given the numerous egregious examples of X profiting from this content, we need detailed responses from X before considering potential legislation that would prevent such activity in the future,” the lawmakers wrote.
They gave Musk and Yaccarino until December 1 to provide “all forms of written communications” related to content moderation of any Hamas-linked posts or accounts.
In addition to the files, House Democrats asked Yaccarino and Musk to detail how X plans to handle 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 anti-Semitism that threaten to deeply undermine the model revenue based on company advertising.
Apple, Disneyand Comcast, CNBC’s parent company, are among major brands that suspended their online advertising on X last week, after Musk publicly endorsed an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that “Jewish communities” pushed “dialectical hatred against white people.
“You told the truth,” Musk wrote last Wednesday in response to this message.
The exchange drew fierce condemnation from X users, Wall Street Investors and Washington politicians. The White House accused Musk of promoting “anti-Semitic and racist hatred.”
The fallout coincided with a new report from the progressive nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters for America, which accused X of placing big-brand ads next to posts promoting Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.
Musk has vehemently denied allegations that he is bigoted, writing in an article Sunday that media reports calling him anti-Semitic because of his rhetoric are “false” and “nothing could be further from the truth.”
“I wish the best for humanity and a prosperous and exciting future for all,” he wrote.
He also repeatedly called Media Matters “pure evil” and vowed to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” on Monday against the media outlet “and EVERYONE who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company.”
Yaccarino, a former NBCUniversal advertising executive whom Musk named last May as CEO, said Thursday that X had “been extremely clear about our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and discrimination.”
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone criticized Musk’s legal threat in a statement Saturday, calling it a “baseless” effort to “silence information that he has even confirmed is accurate.”
Goldman and Raskin’s letter on Tuesday largely avoided pointing the finger at Musk personally for his controversial posts.
Instead, Democrats highlighted numerous X accounts that allegedly “spread Hamas terrorist propaganda videos glorifying barbaric acts of violence against Israelis.”
They cited reports last month from Technology Transparency Projector TTP, the research arm of the nonprofit watchdog Campaign for Accountability and the nonprofit think tank Institute for Strategic Dialogueor ISD.
The TTP investigation found that accounts that paid for X’s premium service shared graphic and uncensored videos, including “bloodied bodies on the ground and rocket and drone attacks on Israeli tanks and vehicles.”
An ISD report identified 128 posts from 45 unique accounts “containing glorification of and support for terrorist content on X” in just 24 hours between October 11 and 12.
Both reports note that one of the Premium accounts spreading Hamas propaganda and anti-Semitic messages had been promoted by Musk himself in a manner message deleted since.
The reports also showed that X “profits from the spread of this horrific and harmful propaganda through account subscription fees and advertising revenue,” the lawmakers wrote.
By purchasing X Premium, accounts identified in TPP and ISD reports “pay for verification without any formalized verification process and are promoted by the website’s algorithm,” the Democrats wrote.
The letter also cited a report released in mid-October by disinformation watchdog NewsGuard, which analyzed 250 high-engagement posts promoting false or unproven claims related to the Israel-Hamas war. it revealed that 186 of the 250 came from accounts that paid for Premium verification.