Elon Musk sues watchdog group after major companies pull ads

US

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) has sued the watchdog group Media Matters alleging it manufactured a report to show advertisers’ posts alongside neo-Nazi and white nationalist content.

Major US companies including Disney, Warner Bros and Sky News’ parent company Comcast pulled advertising from X over concerns about their ads showing up next to hate speech on the site, while Musk has inflamed tensions with his own posts endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

In a lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Texas, X said Media Matters “knowingly and maliciously” portrayed ads next to hateful material “as if they were what typical X users experience on the platform”.

It claims the watchdog manipulated algorithms on the platform to create images of advertisers’ paid posts next to racist and pro-Nazi content, with X saying the juxtapositions were “manufactured, inorganic and extraordinarily rare”.

It said Media Matters did this by using X accounts that just followed users known to produce “extreme fringe content” and accounts owned by X’s major advertisers, which it says led to a feed aimed at producing side-by-side comparisons Media Matters could then screenshot in an effort to alienate X’s advertisers.

“Data wins over manipulation or allegations. Don’t be manipulated. Stand with X,” CEO Linda Yaccarino posted on Monday.

Media Matters said it stands by its reporting, with its president Angelo Carusone adding: “This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence.”

More on Elon Musk

Musk had also sparked an outcry when the Tesla chief agreed with a post falsely claiming Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people, saying the user who referenced the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory was speaking “the actual truth”.

His remarks were met by a stinging rebuke from the White House, which accused him of “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate” that “runs against our core values as Americans”.

Advertisers flee X

Advertisers have fled the social media site since Musk purchased Twitter for $44bn (£35bn) in October 2022 over his controversial posts and layoffs of employees who moderated content.

The platform’s US ad revenue is down by at least 57% each month compared to the same month last year since Musk’s takeover, according to Reuters.

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