SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter has sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit group that has criticized the company’s handling of hate speech, following through on a litigation threat that had been publicly revealed just hours before.

The lawsuit filed Monday in San Francisco federal court accuses CCDH of deliberately trying to drive advertisers away from Twitter — recently rebranded as “X” — by publishing reports critical of the platform’s response to hateful content.

It specifically claims CCDH violated Twitter’s terms of service, and federal hacking laws, by scraping data from the company’s platform and by encouraging an unnamed individual to improperly collect information about Twitter that it had provided to a third-party brand monitoring provider.

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The complaint accuses CCDH of engaging in a wide-ranging campaign to silence users of Twitter’s platform by calling attention to the views they post on social media.

Responding to the complaint’s allegations on Tuesday, CCDH’s CEO Imran Ahmed told CNN that much of the lawsuit, particularly its claim about the unnamed individual, “sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory to me.”

“The truth is that he’s [Elon Musk] been casting around for a reason to blame us for his own failings as a CEO,” Ahmed said, “because we all know that when he took over, he put up the bat signal to racists and misogynists, to homophobes, to antisemites, saying ‘Twitter is now a free-speech platform.’ … And now he’s surprised when people are able to quantify that there has been a resulting increase in hate and disinformation.”

“All we do is hold up a mirror to the platform and ask them to consider whether or not they like the reflection they see in it,” Ahmed added. “What Mr. Musk has done is said, ‘I’m going to sue the mirror because I don’t like what I see.’”

In the past 24 hours, Ahmed said, thousands of people have visited CCDH’s website and many have made donations to the group.

“That’s what we’re going to need if we’re going to survive this,” he said, adding: “The reason that organizations like CCDH have to rely on methodologies like we do is because there is no transparency on these platforms.”

The lawsuit comes after CCDH on Monday disclosed Twitter’s original July 20 threat to sue, along with its response to Twitter’s threat calling the company’s claims “ridiculous.”

“X’s legal threat is a brazen attempt to silence honest criticism and independent research, perhaps in a desperate hope that it can stem the tide of negative stories and rebuild the company’s relationship with advertisers,” Ahmed wrote in an op-ed Monday coinciding with the group’s publication of Twitter’s threat.

In its own blog post Monday, Twitter said its lawsuit was intended to promote free expression and that it “rejects all claims made by the CCDH.”

“X is a free public service funded largely by advertisers,” the company said. “Through the CCDH’s scare campaign and its ongoing pressure on brands to prevent the public’s access to free expression, the CCDH is actively working to prevent public dialogue.”

The July 20 threat indicated Twitter was investigating whether CCDH could be sued for violations of federal laws against false advertising. But Monday’s complaint does not appear to include such an allegation.

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