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X employee takes defamation case against Elon Musk

A senior Irish-based employee of the social media platform X has launched defamation proceedings where he seeks damages against its majority shareholder Elon Musk.

Aaron Rodericks, who is the co-lead of Threat Disruption at X, the social media formerly known as Twitter, claims he was defamed and his reputation damaged by Mr Musk in a tweet published on the entrepreneur’s personal Twitter handle.

The allegedly defamatory tweet, was published days after Mr Rodericks, in separate proceedings, secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining the firm from taking any further steps in a disciplinary process against him.

He also intends to sue X’s Irish-based subsidiary, Twitter International Unlimited Company, over the alleged defamation.

The action was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Cian Ferriter at the High Court today when Mr Rodericks, represented by Mairéad McKenna SC, with Colm Kitson Bl and instructed by Daniel Spring and Company solicitors, secured permission to serve the proceedings on Mr Musk.

Part of the plaintiff’s role with the company is to help prevent disruption and misinformation being posted on X about elections.

Permission was required from the court because Mr Musk resides outside of the jurisdiction.

The action will be served on Mr Musk, at an address at X Corp’s offices at Market Street, San Francisco, California in the United States.

Mr Musk is the ultimate majority shareholder, and Chief Technical Officer of X Corp.

Seeking the order Ms McKenna told the court that it is her client’s case that he was defamed in a tweet published by Mr Musk on 27 September last.

The tweet or post was made in response to a media report entitled “Musk’s X Cuts Half of Election Integrity Team After Promising to Expand It” where it is claimed that Mr Rodericks is identified.

Mr Musk is alleged to have posted in reply to the article that “Oh you mean the Election Integrity team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.”

While Mr Rodericks was not mentioned by name in Mr Musk’s tweet, counsel said it is his case that Mr Musk’s tweet “clearly refers” to the plaintiff.

Mr Rodericks claims the post wrongfully means that he was undermining Election Integrity, had acted in an unlawful manner, that he was incompetent and had been removed from his employment.

He alleges that the tweet, which it is claimed was viewed by 2.3m users, is false and not based on any factual basis, and has damaged his good name and reputation.

As a result Mr Rodericks, with an address at Cualanor, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin seeks damages including exemplary and aggravated damages, in proceedings that would be determined by the Irish courts, against Mr Musk and its Irish subsidiary.

The judge granted the application and allowed the plaintiff’s lawyers, on an ex parte basis, to serve the summons on Mr Musk.

The court heard that Mr Rodericks wrote to Mr Musk, asking him to have the tweet removed, and to put forward an offer to make amends.

No response has been made to those requests, the court heard.

He also wrote to the other proposed defendant asking it to remove the tweet.

In response he said it informed him that the tweet had not breached the platform’s rules, refused to remove the tweet denied any liability, and had no proposal to make in respect of making amends.

In what are related but separate proceedings, Mr Rodericks claims that he had been subjected to a process that is “a complete sham” over allegations that he “demonstrated hostility” to the company for allegedly liking tweets by third parties that are critical of X, Mr Musk and the firm’s CEO Linda Yaccarine.

Mr Rodericks denies any wrongdoing in respect of his employment.

He was suspended from his job.

A disciplinary hearing against Mr Rodericks was due to be heard by the company in September, but has been put on hold after he secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining the firm from taking any further steps in a disciplinary process against him.

He claims that his suspension from his job, is without justification, is in breach of fair procedures, and breaches his contract of employment.

That matter is due back before the High Court later this year.

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