Elon Musk’s social media platform X sued Media Matters on Monday, claiming the liberal media-pressure group, in an effort to drive away business, “manufactured” posts that showed major companies’ ads showed up next to Nazi content.
X said Media Matters has been gunning for it for some time, with 20 different stories so far in November attacking the platform. But X said Media Matters crossed lines when it published a piece claiming that it “found” ads from Apple, IBM and Xfinity placed “next to pro-Nazi content” on X.
Mr. Musk’s company said Media Matters manipulated its account to get that result by limiting the other users it followed to 30 accounts, a combination of major national brands and extremist content.
The result was “tricking” X’s algorithm into thinking the user wanted to view the advertisers’ content and the White supremacists’ posts, then repeatedly refreshing the page until it forged occasions when a major brand’s content did appear alongside hateful materials.
“Media Matters knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on X Corp.’s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist fringe content and then portrayed these manufactured images as if they were what typical X users experience on the platform,” the company said in its lawsuit.
“Media Matters designed both these images and its resulting media strategy to drive advertisers from the platform and destroy X Corp.,” X claimed.
Media Matters’ attempt was working, X said.
Comcast, NBCUniversal, Apple and IBM pulled ads after Media Matters linked the companies’ posts to extremist content. So did other major brands such as Sony and Paramount that weren’t part of Media Matters’ report.
The Washington Times has reached out to Media Matters for this story.
In its original report last week Media Matters said it “recently found ads” for major brands “next to posts that tout Hitler and his Nazi Party on X.”
X says that while it promotes free speech across the ideological spectrum, it also has safeguards to prevent major advertisers’ material from being placed alongside hateful content.
X said it used its own internal data to track what Media Matters did and concluded it intentionally broke the safeguards, manufacturing a situation that was possible in less than one-millionth of 1% of cases.
“Most or all of these pairings were not seen by literally anyone besides Media Matters’ own manipulated account, and no authentic user of the platform has been confirmed to have seen any of these pairings,” X said.
Monday’s lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas.
Also Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced he was investigating Media Matters for potential fraud under a state deceptive practices law.
“We are examining the issue closely 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,” Mr. Paxton said.
Media Matters was formed in 2004 as a liberal watchdog on news outlets.