Elon Musk, alone against a black background, pressing his fingertips together and looking at the camera, displeased.

Elon Musk Hit With Defamation Lawsuit After Amplifying Right-Wing Conspiracies on X

In June 2023, Elon Musk landed himself in some hot water after he falsely accused a young Jewish man of being a federal agent with ties to a neo-Nazi group on X (formerly Twitter)—and now he’s being sued for it.

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According to the lawsuit filed by Mark Bankston, the plaintiff’s attorney, a dogecoin-themed X account brought Musk’s attention to an anonymous right-wing, extremist “Groyper” user accusing a young man named Ben Brody of being a part of a brawl that took place between the Proud Boys and Rose City Nationalists during Oregon’s first-ever Pride Night Fest in Portland on June 24, 2023. This was based on the fact two members had their masks removed, with internet detectives going on the hunt to find them both.

Based on nothing more than a “passing resemblance” after finding a picture of the 22-year-old Brody on social media from his Jewish fraternity at UC Riverside, he was doxxed and harrassed and also piled on by Musk, despite posting images of debit card payments for transactions in Riverside, California and requesting surveillance footage from the restaurant where he was eating at the time of the brawl.

According to Huffington Post, Elon called it “very odd” after being shown a screenshot of a post in which Brody’s fraternity said that he planned to work for the government, which fueled the conspiracy that the FBI was infiltrating right-wing rallies. Later, when shown the same post again, Musk replied, “Always remove their masks.”

Following that, a known troll, ZeroHedge, who runs a conspiracy blog and is notable for spreading lies about the Sandy Hook shooting’s victims and families—which reviled conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has also been sued for—wrote, “Patriot Front ‘White Supremacist’ Unmasked as Suspected Fed.” Huffington Post reports that this blog entry has since been taken down.

In a post that is currently still up, however, Musk responded and wrote the words for which he is currently being sued: “Looks like one is a college student (who wants to join the govt) and another is maybe an Antifa member, but nonetheless a probable false flag “situation.” A “false flag” being a term popular with conspiracy theorists that means “a hostile or harmful action (typically an attack or other act of violence) that is designed to look like it was perpetrated by someone other than the group or person responsible for it,” as defined in the lawsuit filed by Bankston.

The lawsuit also states: “Ben and his family were repeatedly doxed and suffered an enormous wave of harassment from belligerent strangers,” and continued, “Ben and his family’s experience of seeing him defamed by one of the [most] powerful men on Earth warped their sense of reality, leaving them stunned, confused, and afraid.”

In an interview with Vice in July, Brody himself said: “Obviously, I’m more than willing to explain the situation and stuff like that, but just having that label up itself is very hard for employers. That is just like a lot to deal with … the uncertainty, the fear.”

As expected, Evil Elon isn’t taking this lying down and is reportedly threatening to “seek fee-shifting” if the young man attempts to bring a lawsuit against him. The billionaire “refuses to issue a retraction, declined to apologize, and will not engage in any discussion whatsoever about Ben’s defamation claim.”

“I’m not going to let this young man be known for this neo-Nazi smear,” Brody’s lawyer said, according to Huffington Post, “Instead, I’m going to make sure he’s known as the person who stood up to Elon Musk.”

(via Huffington Post, featured image: Chesnot / Getty Images)

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Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.