Elon Musk Angers Latino Group by Inviting Ousted Leader to a Hate-Speech Meeting

LULAC said it missed an opportunity to engage with Musk on his plans to handle hate speech on Twitter

LULAC in recent weeks has broken down into two competing factions, with each claiming they are the legitimate leaders of the organization.
By Emily Birnbaum
November 02, 2022 | 12:42 PM

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Bloomberg — The largest US Latino civil rights organization says it was shut out of a meeting with Elon Musk, Twitter’s new chief executive officer.

The group said it missed an opportunity to engage with Musk on his plans to handle hate speech on Twitter (TWTR) when he invited its former head to a session with civil rights leaders on Monday.

Musk tweeted on Tuesday that he met with the heads of human rights groups including the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, to discuss his plans to handle misinformation on the platform. But the person Musk met with, Sindy Benavides, was terminated as LULAC’s CEO on Oct. 22.

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“She does not represent LULAC in any capacity before any audience,” David Cruz, LULAC’s communications director, told Bloomberg News. “Her presence denied us having a voice and adding our perspective to this important debate at a critical time in our history.”

LULAC’s national board voted to terminate Benavides, according to a press release the group issued last month that said it was the “start of a new era” for the group.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

LULAC in recent weeks has broken down into two competing factions, with each claiming they are the legitimate leaders of the organization. After the majority of LULAC’s board voted to terminate Benavides’ contract, a splinter group of the organization voted confirm her as one of their leaders, according to the Dallas Morning News.

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Benavides shared a statement from the splinter group accusing LULAC of “thwarting the will of the membership.”

The incident shows how complicated it will be for Musk to navigate the dynamics of the civil rights community as he seeks to work with its leaders, many of whom have expressed concern over his plans to eliminate some of Twitter’s safeguards against hate speech, misinformation and violence.

Musk, who describes himself as a free speech absolutist, previously said he hopes to reduce Twitter’s content moderation efforts and restore the accounts of users who have been removed -- including former President Donald Trump, who was suspended in the wake of the violent Capitol Hill riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

But Musk on Tuesday tweeted that “Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks.”

He said he met with civil society leaders -- including the heads of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Anti-Defamation League and more -- in order to talk “about how Twitter will continue to combat hate & harassment & enforce its election integrity policies.”

Dozens of advocacy groups in an open letter this week called on Twitter’s top advertisers to boycott the platform if Musk lowers safety standards for content.

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