Ben Brody, a 22-year-old law school applicant from California, was living a regular life until a coincidental resemblance to a supposed neo-Nazi group member turned his world upside down. His photo was grossly misconstrued by internet trolls who falsely believed he was scheming to discredit the reputation of the hate group. Their baseless claims were magnified when billionaire business tycoon Elon Musk lent his social media influence. Consequently, Brody was left with no choice but to escape from his house, fearing physical assault.
Standing strong, Brody struck back with a defamation lawsuit against Musk, seeking over $1 million in damages. He demands an apology and an immediate retraction of the unproven allegations made against him. His attorney, Mark Bankston, who earlier successfully prosecuted Alex Jones for false claims relating to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, asserts that the lawsuit represents a significant step towards checking reckless defamatory behavior online.
On June 24, 2023, an event at Portland, infamous for violent culture war clashes, turned violent when rival far-right groups and neo-Nazis fought amongst themselves. Instead of acknowledging their culpability, online trolls declared it a “false flag” event. Brody was roped in by a random online photo comparison, and his academic achievements and future government job ambitions were twisted to fit into the conspiracy.
The online harassment escalated when Musk stepped in, amplifying the internet hoax. Despite Brody’s desperate attempts to clear his name, including releasing time-stamped surveillance footage, Musk further pushed the narrative of the brawl being a false flag incident.
Stressing the influence of Musk, who has the highest follower count on any platform, Brody admits the defamation has significantly tarnished his chances of employment and reputation. The lawsuit filed against Musk claims a “serial pattern of slander,” asserting that his comments have continually encouraged online harassment. It also criticizes Musk’s engagement with accounts dealing in racism and antisemitism.
This lawsuit aims at more than just financial recuperation. Brody asserts he wants to make things right, seeking an apology and hoping to prevent such instances in the future.