Israeli PM Netanyahu urges Musk to fight antisemitism on X/Twitter

Israeli PM Netanyahu urges Musk to fight antisemitism on X/Twitter
3 min read
19 September, 2023
The Israeli PM met with the billionaire tycoon, who is entangled in a row with the US-based Anti-Defamation League, urging him to do more to fight antisemitism on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Netanyahu met with the X/Twitter owner Elon Musk, discussing free speech and AI [Getty]

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged Elon Musk to fight antisemitism on his X platform as he sat down with the tech tycoon to discuss artificial intelligence.

The conversation, which was broadcast on Musk's X platform (formerly Twitter), came as the Tesla tycoon is mired in row with the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based Jewish organisation.

Musk has accused the ADL of making unfounded accusations of antisemitism that have scared away advertisers and hurt his company's revenue, and has threatened to sue for billions of dollars.

The ADL has for years accused the social media site of amplifying antisemitic hate speech, and has charged that problematic and racist speech has risen sharply on X after Musk completed his $44 billion takeover in October.

"I know your commitment to free speech," Netanyahu told Musk, who has branded himself a free speech absolutist and welcomed back tens of thousands of banned accounts to the platform when he took over.

"I respect that because it's foundational to democracies, but I also know your opposition to antisemitism," the prime minister said.

"I hope you find within the confines of the First Amendment, the ability to stop not only antisemitism, or rolling it back as best you can, but any collective hatred of people that antisemitism represents," Netanyahu said.

Musk said while his website couldn't stop all hate speech before it was posted, he was "generally against attacking any group, no matter who it is."

"I'm in favor of that which furthers civilisation and which ultimately leads us to become a space-faring civilisation, and where we understand the nature of the universe," Musk said.

"We can't do that if there's a lot of infighting and then hatred and negativity," he added.

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'Blessing and curse'

The main topic of the conversation was the potential fallout from AI.

"I think in many ways, we stand today at a juncture for all humanity, where we have to choose between a blessing and a curse," Netanyahu told Musk.

Musk, who founded his own AI company this year, said he was optimistic that international powers would see the wisdom of setting common rules for AI in order to avoid any catastrophic outcomes that would affect humanity.

"Every sport has a referee of one kind or another so that's the rationale for AI safety," Musk argued, saying a repeat of a nuclear arms race on AI was unwise.

Musk said he recently warned senior officials in China that if AI "is sufficiently powerful, and care is not taken, that digital super intelligence could be in charge of China, instead of the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party)."

"The CCP prefers to be in charge" and took action on regulation, he added.