Elon Musk-owned social media platform X filed suit Monday against liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America, claiming it fabricated a report to show advertisers’ messages alongside neo-Nazi and nationalist messages whites in order to “drive advertisers off the platform and destroy X”.
Advertisers have fled the site formerly known as Twitter, worried about their ads running alongside pro-Nazi content – and hate speech on the website in general – while the billionaire owner has stoked tensions with his own posts endorsing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
IBM, NBCUniversal and its parent company Comcast said last week they had stopped advertising on X after the Media Matters report said their ads appeared alongside content praising Nazis. This is a new setback as the platform tries to win back big brands and their advertising amounts, X’s main source of revenue.
The Media Matters report found ads from Apple and Oracle that were also placed alongside anti-Semitic material on X. On Friday, the organization said it also found ads from Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal and other companies alongside white nationalist hashtags.
However, 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 they were what typical X users experience on the platform.”
According to X’s complaint, the nonprofit “manipulated the algorithms governing the user experience on racist and inflammatory content, giving the false impression that these combinations are anything but what they really are: manufactured, inorganic and extraordinarily rare.
Washington-based Media Matters did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. In an earlier statement, its president, Angelo Carusone, said that “Musk has spent the past few days making baseless legal threats, conjuring up bizarre conspiracy theories, and launching vicious personal attacks against his ‘enemies’ in line’.
Mr. Carusone added that Media Matters will continue its work. “If he sues us, we will win,” he said.
Advertisers have been reluctant towards X since the company was bought by Elon Musk more than a year ago.
This month, Mr. Musk also sparked outrage by responding to a user who accused Jews of hating white people and professing indifference to anti-Semitism. “You told the real truth,” Mr. Musk wrote in a response on X last Wednesday.
Elon 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, president and CEO of
“I think this is something we can and should all agree on,” she wrote on the platform last week.