Tuesday, October 3, 2023
HomeNEWSAmericaElon Musk to meet Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu in Silicon Valley

Elon Musk to meet Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu in Silicon Valley

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to meet X owner Elon Musk on Monday in Silicon Valley, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Netanyahu was already scheduled to visit California next week before travelling to New York for the UN General Assembly.

In Silicon Valley, Netanyahu may try to bolster relations with high-tech executives, a key driver of Israel’s economy. During his trip, it was unclear whether Netanyahu will meet with US president Joe Biden, who has expressed concern about a judicial overhaul undertaken by Netanyahu and his right-wing government.

X, formerly known as Twitter, has seen a dramatic increase in hate speech since Mr Musk bought the site last year and loosened safeguards around content moderation. Last week, Mr Musk said that US ad revenue had declined by 60 per cent.

The meeting is the latest step in a campaign by Mr Musk’s Jewish friends and allies to stave off the mounting criticism surrounding the increase in antisemitic speech on X, the report said, citing five people familiar with the situation.

Neither Mr Musk nor the White House immediately responded to Reuters requests for comment. Netanyahu’s office had no immediate comment.

Civil rights groups, including the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), have issued findings that the volume of hate speech on X has grown dramatically under the stewardship of Mr Musk, who is also the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla.

In December, the ADL noted both an increase in antisemitic content on the platform and a decrease in the moderation of antisemitic posts since Mr Musk took over. The Center for Countering Digital Hate said the daily use of a racial slur against Black people under Mr Musk was triple the 2022 average and slurs against gay men and trans persons were up 58 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively.

Without providing evidence, Mr Musk has blamed critics for the slump in ad revenue, pointing the finger specifically at pressure from the ADL.

Earlier this month, Mr Musk joined a conversation on X with a hashtag #BantheADL, embraced by white nationalists and antisemites, and asked followers whether he should poll the platform about it. He engaged in exchanges with users who expressed antisemitic viewpoints during the discussion.

X’s new content moderation policy has made it challenging to convince brands that the social media platform was safe for ads, the company’s former head of brand safety and ad quality AJ Brown told Reuters in an interview this month.

Mr Biden has not met with Netanyahu since the Israeli leader took office for a sixth term in late December. Mr Biden has held off extending the invitation out of concern about Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul as well as Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Foreign investment in Israeli tech startups has plunged in the last year, partly due to a global slowdown and exacerbated by investor fears that the push to trim the Supreme Court’s powers would remove a key check and balance. With foreign flows down sharply, the shekel has weakened by nearly 9 per cent versus the dollar this year.



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