After facing severe backlash from advertisers, Elon Musk’s company X is suing Media Matters, a progressive watchdog group, over its analysis that highlighted antisemitic and pro-Nazi content on the social media site.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Monday, accuses Media Matters of distorting the likelihood of ads appearing alongside extremist content on X. It alleges that Media Matters’ testing methodology did not accurately reflect how real users experience the platform.
The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, claims that Media Matters intentionally created images that depicted advertisers’ posts on X beside neo-Nazi and white nationalist fringe content. It argues that these manufactured images were then presented as if they were representative of the typical user experience on the platform.
The lawsuit seeks a judicial order to remove Media Matters’ analysis from its website and accuses the group of interfering with X’s contracts with advertisers, disrupting their economic relationships, and unlawfully disparaging X.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone has declared that the group will defend itself against the lawsuit and believes it to be a frivolous attempt to silence X’s critics. X CEO Linda Yaccarino has also come to the defense of the social media site, stating that no authentic user on X saw the ads mentioned in Media Matters’ article next to harmful content.
Following the filing of the lawsuit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into Media Matters to determine if the study of content on X could be considered potential fraudulent activity under Texas law. Paxton referred to the group as a radical left-wing organization that seeks to limit freedom by reducing participation in the public square.
Several major companies suspended their advertising on X after Musk endorsed an antisemitic claim. In response to this backlash, Musk threatened a lawsuit against Media Matters and all those involved in the alleged “fraudulent attack” on his company.
Although Musk does not appear to dispute the results of Media Matters’ analysis, he takes issue with the group’s testing methods, arguing that they do not accurately reflect real-world experiences. Legal experts suggest that X’s lawsuit is weak and strategically filed in a conservative court that Musk believes will be sympathetic to his claims.
Critics argue that X’s complaint downplays the fact that ads did appear alongside hateful content, a strategy previously employed by advertisers to pressure platforms like YouTube to demonetize political content.
Some believe that X filed the lawsuit in Texas to avoid anti-SLAPP statutes present in other states, which aim to prevent frivolous lawsuits meant to silence public criticism. The case has been assigned to District Judge Mark Pittman, appointed by former President Donald Trump, who has previously made significant legal rulings on various issues.