Elon Musk’s social media company X filed a lawsuit Monday against liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America, claiming it fabricated a report showing advertisers’ posts alongside neo-Nazi and white nationalist posts in order to to “drive advertisers off the platform and destroy X”. Corp.”
Media Matters, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, called the lawsuit “frivolous.”
Advertisers have fled the site formerly known as Twitter, worried about their ads running alongside pro-Nazi content – and hate speech on the site in general – while billionaire owner Musk has stoked tensions with its own messages endorsing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
IBM, NBCUniversal and its parent company Comcast said last week they stopped advertising on X after the Media Matters report said their ads appeared next to material praising Nazis. It’s a new setback as the platform tries to win back big brands and their advertising dollars, X’s main source of revenue.
The Media Matters report highlighted ads from Apple and Oracle that were also placed next to anti-Semitic material on X. On Friday, it said it also found ads from Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal and d ‘others alongside white nationalist hashtags.
But San Francisco-based X claims in its complaint filed in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, that Media Matters “knowingly and maliciously” presented ads alongside hateful content “as if what typical X users experience on the platform.
X’s complaint claims that Media Matters manipulated algorithms on the platform to create images of advertisers’ paid posts alongside racist and inflammatory content. The juxtapositions, according to the complaint, were “fabricated, inorganic and extraordinarily rare.”
It says Media Matters did this using X accounts that simply followed X users known for producing “extreme fringe content” and accounts belonging to produce side-by-side placements that Media Matters could then capture in an attempt to alienate X’s advertisers.
Media Matters said Monday it stood by its reporting and hoped to win its case in court.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit designed to silence critics of X,” the nonprofit’s president, Angelo Carusone, said in a prepared statement.
Advertisers have been reluctant towards X since Musk’s takeover more than a year ago.
Musk also sparked an outcry this month with his own posts responding to a user who accused Jews of hating white people and professing indifference to anti-Semitism. “You spoke the truth,” Musk tweeted in a response last Wednesday.
Musk has been accused of tolerating anti-Semitic messages on the platform since his purchase last year, and X’s content has come under increased scrutiny since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Linda Yaccarino, CEO of
“I think this is something we can and should all agree on,” she wrote on the platform last week.
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