Sunday, June 23, 2024

X, the social media service formerly known as Twitter, filed a federal court lawsuit against Media Matters on Monday. This action came after the advocacy organization published research indicating that X ads had appeared alongside antisemitic content.

Last week, a post from Elon Musk endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory was published a day before the Media Matters research. This led to a mass exodus of advertisers, with major brands like IBM, Apple, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Sony pausing their spending on the platform.

X has rejected Media Matters’ findings, claiming they do not represent a regular user’s experience on the platform. On Friday, Mr. Musk threatened legal action against Media Matters and its supporters.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, accuses Media Matters of attempting to harm X’s relationships with advertisers. Lawyers for X wrote in the complaint, “Media Matters has manipulated the algorithms governing the user experience on X to bypass safeguards and create images of X’s largest advertisers’ paid posts adjacent to racist, incendiary content.”

Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, stated, “This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence.” He added that his organization stands behind its reporting and anticipates winning in court.

On Monday night, Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, announced that his office would open an investigation into Media Matters for potential fraudulent activity.

Since Mr. Musk acquired the company and announced plans to relax its content-moderation policies, brands have been hesitant to advertise on X. X has attempted to woo back hesitant advertisers, an initiative overseen by Linda Yaccarino, X’s chief executive since June.

Mr. Musk adamantly denied accusations of antisemitism in a post on X on Sunday, stating “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

In its lawsuit, X requested the court to order Media Matters to take down its published research and seek unspecified monetary damages and lawyers’ fees.

“If you know me, you know I’m committed to truth and fairness,” Ms. Yaccarino stated in a post on X. “Data wins over manipulation or allegations. Don’t be manipulated. Stand with X.”

At an all-staff meeting on Monday, Ms. Yaccarino focused on the blame on Media Matters and encouraged employees to be frugal during decreased revenue caused by advertiser pauses.

“We want to work with all of our partners who stand with us and believe in the power and the necessity of free speech,” Ms. Yaccarino said. “Sometimes in life and in business, standing for your values is the truly defining thing that makes leaders, and we’re going to hold on to that and keep pushing forward. No critic is ever going to deter us from our mission to keep fighting and protecting free speech.”

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