The social media site X on Monday filed a defamation suit in Texas federal court against media watchdog group Media Matters in the wake of a Nov. 16 report showing that Elon Musk’s site has placed ads for major brands next to pro-Nazi content.
Musk had promised a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against the liberal group, whose president, Angelo Carusone, subsequently told The Daily Beast that if the matter heads to court, “we will win.”
On Monday night, Carusone told The Daily Beast in a statement: “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.”
Since the report, and after Musk himself supported an anti-semitic post—allegations which he denies—several companies have suspended advertisements on the platform, according to Media Matters. Among those that no longer pay X for ads are IBM, Apple, Disney, Paramount Global, NBCUniversal and Comcast.
According to Reuters, X Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino sought to assure employees over the weekend that “while some advertisers may have temporarily paused investments because of a misleading and manipulated article, the data will tell the real story.”
“I believe deeply in our vision, our team, and our community,” she wrote. “I’m also deeply committed to the truth and there is no other team on earth working as hard as the teams at X.”
“Media Matters for America is a self-proclaimed media watchdog that decided it would not let the truth get in the way of a story it wanted to publish about X Corp,” X’s lawsuit alleges.
The filing states that “users shape their own experiences on X” and that “users curate the content on their own feeds by choosing to ‘follow’ other users, thereby determining which posts are presented to them.”
“As the most prominent online platform dedicated to hosting free speech, X and its predecessor Twitter have long been the target of Media Matters,” it adds, claiming that IBM’s, Comcast’s, and Oracle’s paid posts “appeared alongside the fringe content cited by Media Matters for only one viewer (out of more than 500 million) on all of X.” In Apple’s case, it claims, “only two out of more than 500 million active users saw its ad appear alongside the fringe content cited in the article—at least one of which was Media Matters.”
This past summer, X also sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate for defamation after it reported on how the site handles hate speech.
Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday that he has opened an investigation into Media Matters for “potential fraudulent activity.” Paxton’s aim, he said, is to “ensure that the public has not been deceived by the schemes of radical left-wing organizations who would like nothing more than to limit freedom by reducing participation in the public square.”