Elon Musk’s X sues Media Matters for raising Nazi post concerns

Elon Musk’s X, formerly Twitter, is suing Media Matters for America after the watchdog claimed adverts for major corporations appeared next to pro-Nazi material on the platform. 

Since his take over last year, Musk, a self-proclaimed free-speech advocate, has come under increasing fire for the way in which X manages hate speech, platform violations and spam. 

This has led to intense coverage by Media Matters over X’s practices and policies, resulting in an article on 16 November in which the group stated it found ads for Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity and IBM next to posts that celebrated white nationalism, Hitler, the Nazi Party and its ideology.  

Media Matters also claimed that Musk was continuing “his descent into white nationalist and antisemitic conspiracy theories”, a claim which comes amid controversy related to the billionaire calling, they say, an anti-Jewish conspiracy theory “the actual truth”.  

In response to the concerns raised, huge firms such as Apple, Disney and Comcast have paused advertising on X. 

X’s lawsuit, filed in Texas, lambasted Media Matters, claiming the pressure group “knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images” to depict advertisers content as appearing besides extremist content – which the social media company says does not represent “typical X users experience on the platform”. 

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Elon Musk bought Twitter, now called X, for a reported $44 billion (£35 billion) in 2022. ((Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Legal documents go on to allege that: “Media Matters designed both these images and its resulting media strategy to drive advertisers from the platform and destroy X Corp.”

The lawsuit describes X as “the most-prominent online platform dedicated to hosting free speech” and claims Media Matters’ coverage was “a blatant smear campaign” against the platform and Musk himself. 

Taking to the platform, Elon Musk wrote: “Media Matters is pure evil.” 

On Monday (20 November), Linda Yaccarino, the chief executive of X, also hit out at Media Matters, writing: “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 two 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.”

In response to the threat of legal action, Media Matters president Angelo Carusone said: “Far from the free-speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully who threatens meritless lawsuits in an attempt to silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate. 

“Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. If he does sue us, we will win.”