On Monday, social media company X initiated legal action against media watchdog group Media Matters, accusing the organization of defaming the platform. This comes in response to Media Matters’ publication of a report claiming that ads for major brands were displayed alongside posts promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
Formerly known as Twitter, X has faced increasing criticism following the release of the report last Thursday. The backlash prompted advertisers such as IBM, Comcast, and others to withdraw their ads from the platform.
In the lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in Texas, X asserted that Media Matters engaged in “manipulation” by utilizing accounts exclusively following major brands or users associated with fringe content. The company claimed that Media Matters systematically scrolled and refreshed the feed until it found ads adjacent to extremist posts, thereby misrepresenting the typical user experience on X with the intention of harming the platform’s reputation and business.
Media Matters had not responded to requests for comment at the time the lawsuit was filed.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone, in an earlier interview with Reuters, contested X’s assertion that safety protections were in place to prevent ads from appearing next to harmful content. Carusone argued that, contrary to X’s statements, ads were thriving when searching for white nationalist content.
X, in its lawsuit, contended that ads for IBM, Comcast, and Oracle only appeared alongside hateful content for one viewer, identified as Media Matters.
Linda Yaccarino, X’s Chief Executive, posted on Monday, “Data wins over manipulation or allegations. Don’t be manipulated. Stand with X.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Monday that his office was launching an investigation into Media Matters, expressing deep concern over allegations that the group manipulated data on X.
Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022, a wave of advertisers has abandoned the platform, citing concerns over Musk’s controversial posts and layoffs of content moderation staff. The platform’s U.S. ad revenue has reportedly declined by at least 55% year-over-year each month since Musk’s takeover.
In response to the recent events, Yaccarino reassured employees in a note on Sunday that while some advertisers had temporarily halted their investments, the company remained committed to combating antisemitism and discrimination.
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