Elon Musk’s X sued the watchdog group Media Matters for America for defamation on Monday after the nonprofit published a report about ads for major brands appearing alongside posts touting Nazism.
Media Matters first published details Thursday about the spread of Nazi-related content on the social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, saying X had been placing ads for major brands, including Apple, IBM and Comcast’s Xfinity, next to offending content. The research group published screenshots of posts praising Hitler that ran adjacent to the ads shortly after Musk seemed to endorse an antisemitic conspiracy theory on the site.
The report prompted a fresh wave of criticism for X, and many advertisers suspended their ad buys.
But X claimed in the suit — filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas — that Media Matters “knowingly and maliciously manufactured” an account that manipulated the company’s algorithm to see offending content.
“Undeterred by the truth, Media Matters has opted for new tactics in its campaign to drive advertisers from X,” the suit says. “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, leaving the false impression that these pairings are anything but what they actually are: manufactured, inorganic, and extraordinarily rare.”
Media Matters rejected the lawsuit’s claims.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence. Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court,” Angelo Carusone, the watchdog’s president, said in a statement. “Onward!”
Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, rejected Media Matters’ response in her own statement Monday, reiterating the company stance that X remains a “safe” platform for users and advertisers.
“If you know me, you know I’m committed to truth and fairness,” she wrote. “Here’s the truth. Not a single authentic user on X saw IBM’s, Comcast’s, or Oracle’s ads next to the content in Media Matters’ article. Only 2 users saw Apple’s ad next to the content, at least one of which was Media Matters. Data wins over manipulation or allegations. Don’t be manipulated. Stand with X.”
Musk on Sunday defended his actions amid concern about his support of the antisemitic post, saying any claims he was antisemitic himself were “bogus.”
“I wish only the best for humanity and a prosperous and exciting future for all,” he said.