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For independent research: Taming Musk and Co.

HateAid Travis Brown Petition: Für freie Forschung - Musk und Co. bändigen - Beitragsbild. #FreeTravisFreeResearch

Lacking transparency: the bosses of the social media companies are banning more and more researchers from their platforms.

However, we urgently require their findings to counter hate, disinformation, extremism and antisemitism. The President of the EU Commission can change that now. We demand clear rules from her on access to data. Support our petition for the freedom of researchers.

First signatories

  • Imran Ahmed, Founder & CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate
  • Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament
  • Chan-jo Jun, Lawyer
  • Sarah Mohamed, deputy chairwomen of Jusos
  • Prof. Dr. Volker Quaschning, Expert for renewable energies, energy transition, climate protection
  • Prof. Dr. Janina Steinert, Technical University of Munich
  • Julia Wandt, Co-Initiatior of Scicomm-Support and University of Freiburg
  • Marina Weisband, Psychologist and author
  • Lena Altman, CO-CEO Alfred Landecker Foundation
  • Silke Mülherr, CO-CEO Alfred Landecker Foundation
  • ISD Germany
  • Jana Faus and Rainer Faus, Managing Partners of Pollytix
  • Sylvia Bühler, Member of the ver.di Federal Executive Board and Head of the Health, Social Services, Education and Science Department
  • Christoph Schmitz, Member of the ver.di Federal Executive Board and Head of the Department of Financial Services, Communication and Technology, Culture, Supply and Waste Management


Travis Brown is one of many researchers studying how social media platforms operate. Now, the data analyst is facing a permanent ban from X (formerly Twitter). The reason: Elon Musk wants to prevent by all means that we get insights into the engine room of his platform. Because that’s where frightening things are happening: right-wing radicals, antisemites and misanthropes are spreading hatred, disinformation, and manipulating elections without hindrance. Travis has uncovered all of this with his research for the BBC, CNN, and other media.

Getting kicked off the platform is nothing new for Travis. He has successfully defended himself time and again, also with our help. But this time it’s different. He’s receiving mile-long letters from Musk’s expensive lawyers. Travis is being intimidated. A lawsuit like this could lead to his financial ruin.

Lawsuits against researchers and civil society organisations are a popular intimidation tactic used by social media platforms. The threats are having an impact. Only a few still dare to publicly expose misconduct on the platforms.

In fact, we have European laws designed to protect researchers. They are just not being properly enforced. That’s why Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the EU Commission, must take action now. She must ensure that Musk, Zuckerberg and others comply with our laws. Through the EU’s new digital law, the Digital Services Act, she is securing researchers’ access to data from social media platforms. Sign our petition for the freedom of researchers now!

We call on the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen:

  1. Exercise oversight: Ensure that platforms no longer arbitrarily block disagreeable accounts and content.
  2. Clear rules for access to data: Create clarity on how researchers and civil society organisations can access real-time data.
  3. Fast implementation: Push for all EU member states to implement the Digital Services Coordinators as soon as possible. Only then will we be able to effectively claim our rights.