Elon Musk, the owner of the social media platform X, has launched a legal battle against Media Matters, a progressive watchdog group. This move comes in the wake of a severe advertiser exodus from X, which included some of the world's largest media companies.
Musk's lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, accuses Media Matters of misrepresenting the likelihood of ads appearing next to extremist content on X. The complaint alleges that the group's testing methodology was flawed and did not accurately reflect the typical user experience on the site.
The lawsuit claims that Media Matters "knowingly and maliciously manufactured" images showing advertisers' posts alongside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist content, falsely representing these as common occurrences on X. Musk's legal action represents his typical approach to criticism, seeking to shift blame for the advertising fallout to external parties.
This legal step follows Musk's recent controversial endorsement of an antisemitic claim, further stirring the controversy.
Media Matters' Stand and Legal Implications
Media Matters and its senior investigative reporter, Eric Hananoki, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Musk's legal team is demanding the removal of Media Matters' analysis from its website and accusing the group of contract interference, economic relationship disruption, and defamation. Responding to the lawsuit, Angelo Carusone, President of Media Matters, dismissed it as an attempt to silence critics, affirming the organization's commitment to defend its reporting in court.
Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, also defended the platform, asserting that no authentic user saw the controversial ads next to the contentious content.
If you know me, you know I'm committed to truth and fairness. 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… — Linda Yaccarino (@lindayaX) November 20, 2023
Texas Attorney General's Involvement
Adding to the complexity, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into Media Matters to determine if its study on X constitutes potential fraudulent activity under Texas law.
Paxton, labeling Media Matters a "radical left-wing organization," expressed concerns about its influence on public discourse.