Ben Brody says his life was going fine. He had just finished college, stayed out of trouble, and was prepping for law school. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Elon Musk used his considerable social media clout to amplify an online mob’s misguided rants accusing the 22-year-old from California of being an undercover agent in a neo-Nazi group.
The claim, Brody told CNN, was as bizarre as it was baseless.
But the fact he bore a vague resemblance to a person allegedly in the group, that he was Jewish, and, that he once stated in a college fraternity profile posted online that he aspired to one day work for the government, was more than enough information for internet trolls to falsely conclude Brody was an undercover government agent (a “Fed”) planted inside the neo-Nazi group to make them look bad.
For Brody, the fallout was immediate. Overnight, he became a central character in a story spun by people seeking to deny and downplay the actions of hate groups in the United States today.
The lies and taunts, which Musk engaged with on social media, turned his life upside down, Brody said. At one point, he said, he and his mother had to flee their home for fear of being attacked.
Now, he’s fighting back.
Brody filed a defamation lawsuit last month against Musk, the owner of X, formerly known as Twitter. The suit seeks damages in excess of $1 million. Brody says he wants the billionaire to apologize and retract the false claims about him. [Continue reading…]