X, the social media service formerly known as Twitter, sued Media Matters in federal court on Monday after the advocacy organization published research showing that ads on X appeared next to anti-Semitic content.
A post last week by Elon Musk endorsing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, which he wrote a day before the Media Matters investigation was published, started an exodus of advertisers, with big brands including IBM, Apple, Warner Bros. Discovery and Sony stopping its spending. on the platform.
X rejected Media Matters’ findings, saying they were not representative of a typical user’s experience on the platform. On Friday, Musk promised a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters and its backers.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, claims that Media Matters attempted to harm X’s relationships with advertisers. “Media Matters has manipulated the algorithms that govern the user experience on minus what they really are: manufactured, inorganic and extraordinarily rare,” X’s lawyers wrote in the complaint.
Media Matters did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. Angelo Carusone, president of the organization, said Friday that Musk had confirmed that ads were running on X along with pro-Nazi content.
“Far from being the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully threatening a meritless lawsuit in an attempt to silence reports he even confirmed are accurate,” Carusone said Friday. Media Matters would prevail in a lawsuit, he added.
On Monday night, Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, also announced that his office would open an investigation into Media Matters for “possible fraudulent activity.”
Brands have been hesitant to advertise on X since Musk bought the company a year ago and said he would relax his content moderation policies. X has tried to entice hesitant advertisers back to the platform, an initiative that has been overseen by Linda Yaccarino, a longtime advertising executive who became CEO of
But Musk’s post on Wednesday, in which he agreed with a post by an reverse.
“You have told the real truth,” Musk said. answered to the position.
Jewish groups quickly condemned the statement Musk endorsed, comparing it to the “Great Replacement Theory,” a conspiracy theory that claims minorities are replacing white European populations as part of a coordinated effort by the Jewish people. The White House condemned Musk’s comment and top brands quickly pulled their X advertising.
Mr. Musk said in a post for X on Sunday that he claimed to be anti-Semitic were false. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” she wrote.
In his lawsuit, X asked the court to order Media Matters to withdraw its published research. The lawsuit also seeks unspecified monetary damages and attorneys’ fees.
Yaccarino said in a statement that the X account that Media Matters had used in its investigation was the only account that saw some of the ads alongside the anti-Semitic posts in question. In Apple’s case, his ad was placed next to an anti-Semitic post and viewed by another user, he added.
“If you know me, you know that I am committed to truth and justice,” Ms. Yaccarino said in a publish in X. “Data wins over manipulation or accusations. Don’t let yourself be manipulated. Stand with X.”
During an all-staff meeting on Monday, Yaccarino said she had discussed the issue with advertisers and was committed to defending X, according to audio of the meeting heard by The New York Times. In those conversations, some advertisers had asked her to be more forthcoming about issues facing them and for her to share more data about how ads are displayed on the platform, she said.
“We want to work with all of our partners who support us and believe in the power and necessity of freedom of expression,” Yaccarino said. “Sometimes in life and in business, upholding values is what truly defines leaders, and we’re going to hold on to that and keep moving forward. No critic will ever dissuade us from our mission to continue fighting and protecting freedom of expression..”
In the roughly 30-minute meeting, Yaccarino focused blame on Media Matters and did not address Musk’s endorsement of the anti-Semitic post.
He also encouraged employees to be frugal during a period of declining revenue caused by advertiser pauses and to think about ways the company could make more money.
“I would say be as fiscally responsible as possible,” the executive director told her workers. “And that’s on a spectrum from critical and necessary travel to being a good steward of anything that might be related to an expense in the business.”