The site, under Musk’s ownership, has seen a decline in advertisers, partly due to concerns about their ads being displayed next to pro-Nazi content and other forms of hate speech.Musk himself had pledged to hit the watchdog group with a “thermonuclear lawsuit“.
Musk has been a controversial figure, especially after endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory through his posts.
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton announced on Monday that his office would investigate Media Matters, expressing serious concerns over the allegations of data manipulation on X.
Major companies like IBM, NBCUniversal, and Comcast have withdrawn their advertising from X following the Media Matters report, which highlighted their ads appearing next to content praising Nazis. This development represents a significant challenge for X as it seeks to attract major brands and their advertising revenue, a crucial income source for the platform.
The report by Media Matters also mentioned ads from Apple and Oracle being placed near antisemitic material on X. Additionally, it identified ads from Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal, and others appearing next to white nationalist hashtags.
In its lawsuit filed in Fort Worth, Texas, X alleges that Media Matters deliberately and maliciously misrepresented the situation, making it seem as though ads routinely appear next to hateful content, which X claims is not the typical user experience. The complaint accuses Media Matters of manipulating algorithms to create misleading images of major advertisers’ posts next to racist and inflammatory content, falsely suggesting such pairings are common.
Media Matters, headquartered in Washington, DC, has not immediately commented on the lawsuit. However, its president, Angelo Carusone, previously criticized Musk for making baseless legal threats and promoting conspiracy theories.
Advertiser confidence in X has been shaky since Musk took over the platform. Musk himself has been embroiled in controversy, particularly after responding affirmatively to a user’s antisemitic remarks and showing indifference to antisemitism.
X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, emphasized the company’s stance against discrimination, stating that it should be universally rejected. She expressed this view on the platform, advocating for a consensus on the issue.
Since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in October 2022 for $44 billion, the platform has seen a significant exodus of advertisers. This departure is attributed to concerns over Musk’s controversial posts and the reduction of staff responsible for content moderation.
Reuters has reported a substantial decline in the platform’s US advertising revenue, with a decrease of at least 55% year-over-year each month following Musk’s takeover.
(With inputs from agencies)