Who's Behind The Center For Countering Digital Hate?
X Corp (Twitter) and the House Judiciary Committee are attempting to find out who funds a powerful left-leaning, London-based, 'anti-hate speech' group.
Update: The CCDH has refused to voluntarily turn over information to the House Judiciary Committee, which issued a subpoena giving CCDH until the end of September 2023 to produce information related to content moderation.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate, Inc. (CCDH) failed to respond to a recent email request asking it to identify its funders.
Should this be a controversial question for a non-profit whose main purpose is fact checking and tracking hate speech on social media? One would think such an organization would automatically post the information on its web site in the interest of transparency.
Wouldn’t it be relevant, for example, if CCDH, which recently urged advertisers to stop advertising on X Corp (formerly Twitter), was funded by a competitor of X Corp?
The CCDH, founded in 2018, says on its web site only that it “is a not-for-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) that is funded by philanthropic trusts and members of the public.”
The British Broadcasting Corporation reports the CCDH has ties to the left-wing British Labour Party. The group’s founder and CEO, Imran Ahmed, is a former advisor to Labour Members of Parliament and other board members have ties to the Labour Party.
But who pays the to keep the lights on?
CCDH Under Microscope
The CCDH came under a microscope recently when X Corp sued CCDH for urging businesses not to advertise on X Corp because it allows “accounts of homophobes, misogynists, self-professed neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists because it’s highly profitable.”
Elon Musk, a free speech proponent, said X Corp's advertising revenue has plunged roughly 50% since he purchased the platform in October 2022.
Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) last week sent a letter to Ahmed “requesting documents and information related to the Committee’s oversight of how and to what extent the Biden Administration has coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor American speech online.”
Jordan said the Biden White House relied on a CCDH report to pressure social media platforms to censor the so-called “The Disinformation Dozen,” including Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whom CCDH labelled ‘anti-vaxxers . . . responsible for almost two-thirds of anti-vaccine content circulating on social media platforms.’
Ahmed said the House’s “fishing expedition” will deter CCDH’s “work exposing hate and harmful disinformation online” and called Musk’s lawsuit “straight out of the authoritarian playbook.”
X Corp.’s lawsuit alleges CCDH backers may include “foreign government with ties to legacy media companies” and activist organizations “masquerading as research agencies.”
On two occasions, the X Corp lawsuit alleges, the CCDH used the unlawfully accessed data “incompletely and out of context to create unsubstantiated and incorrect assertions about the presence of hate speech on X.”
In another instance, X alleges, CCDH admits scraping Twitter to obtain data for a report that contains an “inaccurate narrative to openly call for companies to not advertise on X, claiming they would otherwise be ‘bankrolling the spread of hate and disinformation on Twitter.’”
X Corp will undoubtedly seek to require the CCDH to disclose its funders in discovery as part of its lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the mystery of how the CCDH got proprietary Twitter data that it used for its research appears to be solved.