Researcher Fights To Restore Suspended Account In Court Against X Under Elon Musk


A Berlin-based software developer, Travis Brown, is taking legal action against X after his account was suspended for violating the company’s terms of service. Brown, known for his critical research on the platform, has received support from HateAid, a German organization combatting digital violence, in his fight to restore his account. Although he was successful in obtaining an injunction and having his account restored once, X is now engaging an outside law firm to challenge Brown’s appeal. This legal battle highlights the platform’s attempt to silence researchers and raises concerns about the growing dangers it presents.

Key Takeaway

A software developer, Travis Brown, is fighting against X after his account was suspended due to research that shed a negative light on the platform. With the support of HateAid, he aims to restore his account and continue monitoring extremism and disinformation on the platform.

Researcher’s Battle with X

Travis Brown, a software developer based in Berlin, is pushing back against X after the platform suspended his account, claiming a violation of their terms of service. Brown had been conducting research on hate speech and account suspensions on the platform, using a software tool he developed in collaboration with the Open Knowledge Foundation. His findings were instrumental in revealing concerning aspects of X’s operations.

Brown, determined to restore his account, sought assistance from HateAid, an organization fighting against digital violence. With their support, he secured an injunction that led to the restoration of his account initially. However, X seems determined to challenge Brown’s appeal and has engaged an external law firm to counter his legal efforts. Despite the obstacles, Brown remains committed to his cause, emphasizing the importance of monitoring the impact of platforms like X on society.

Platform’s Attempts to Silence Researchers

Brown argues that X’s actions constitute an attempt to suppress researchers who analyze and raise awareness about extremism and disinformation on the platform. He expresses concerns about the platform becoming increasingly dangerous due to such behavior. Despite the obstacles he faces, Brown is resolute in his determination to collect and share data, asserting that everyone has the right to understand the effects such platforms have on the world.

It is not only Brown who has faced resistance from X. The company has previously sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate, accusing them of negatively impacting advertising revenue by reporting on hate speech increases under Elon Musk’s leadership. This clash represents a broader trend of X’s resistance against organizations conducting research on extremism within its platform.

Continued Research and Reporting

Travis Brown’s research has been widely cited in various reports concerning X’s paid subscriptions and its dealings with extremist figures. His data revealed that X had converted around 140,000 users to its paid service, Twitter Blue, by November 2022. Furthermore, his estimations indicated that X Premium, Musk’s revamped version of Twitter Blue, had approximately 890,000 subscribers as of September 2023. Brown’s research also shed light on the popularity of Twitter’s paid verification badges among far-right and extremist individuals.

Given the increasing challenges faced by researchers and the importance of transparency, HateAid CEO Anna-Lena von Hodenberg emphasizes the necessity of supporting cases like Travis Brown’s. Independent research and reporting on social networks are crucial for unveiling the hidden aspects of platforms and their impact on society.

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