Elon Musk posted tweets on Saturday including an excerpt from Yoel Roth’s doctoral thesis suggesting the former Twitter executive is an advocate of pedophilia, an unfounded trope that makes Roth susceptible to online abuse.
Musk bought Twitter in late October for $44 billion and ousted Roth, the former head of Twitter’s Trust and Safety division, and Vijaya Gadde, the former legal chief, in a quick turnaround for their left-wing bias. Both have long been targets of right-wing attacks over Twitter’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump from the stage on January 6, 2021, following a violent insurrection at the US Capitol.
Roth declined to comment Saturday.
Kasturi participated in a Twitter space on Friday night about child abuse and on Saturday responded to one of the participants who linked to an old Roth tweet.
“It appears that Yoel is making the case in his PhD thesis for children to be able to access adult internet services,” Musk tweeted along with an excerpt from the 300-page dissertation. Roth’s 2016 dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania titled “Gay Data” is about Grindr, a geosocial networking service popular with the LGBTQ+ community.
It looks like Joel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult internet services in his PhD thesis: pic.twitter.com/1NiBohjhMQ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2022
Far-right and extremist voices have long promoted a false claim that LGBTQ+ people are sexual predators who are “grooming” children for abuse. In September, the Anti-Defamation League’s Extremism Center said that “this widespread hate rhetoric has resulted in an increase in harassment, threats and violence against the LGBTQ+ community.”
Musk in 2018 called a British spelunker who was involved in rescuing a stranded Thai youth soccer team a “fart”. One of his associates paid $50,000 to hire a private investigator in a futile attempt to back up the claim. In 2019, Musk dismissed a defamation suit from a cave expert in a Los Angeles court in 2019.
When Musk first bought Twitter in late October, he expressed his support for Roth before leaving the executive position in November.
In recent days, Musk said Twitter interfered in the election, pointing to the release of emails from executives, including Roth, discussing its controversial decision to restrict access to a 2020 article involving Hunter Biden.
Musk’s line of attack has already received some pushback. When Musk tweeted that Twitter “refused to act on child abuse for years,” a friend of Musk’s, former CEO Jack Dorsey, tweeted, “That’s a lie.”