Monday, July 15, 2024

Musk sues Media Matters over claims of hate-adjacent ads on X

Elon Musk’s X has sued left-leaning non-profit Media Matters, accusing it of interference with contract, business disparagement, and interference with prospective economic advantage.

The non-profit last week alleged in a report that X “has been placing ads for major brands” like Apple and IBM “next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party”.

This led to several high-profile brands pausing their ads on X.

In a simultaneous move, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened an investigation into Media Matters for potential fraudulent activity.

“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,” said Paxton.

The X lawsuit alleged that for the last several years, Media Matters has “falsely portrayed Twitter, now X, as a risky, unsafe platform for advertisers”.

“Contrary to these efforts, 99 per cent of X’s measured ad placement in 2023 has appeared adjacent to content scoring above the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s brand safety floor,” the platform said.

The lawsuit confirmed that the screenshots the non-profit organisation posted are real but alleged that Media Matters “manipulated” the service to make X serve the offending ads.

“Media Matters has manipulated the algorithms governing the user experience on X to bypass safeguards and create images of X’s largest advertisers’ paid posts adjacent to racist, incendiary content, leaving the false impression that these pairings are anything but what they actually are: manufactured, inorganic, and extraordinarily rare,” read the lawsuit.

Media Matters’ president Angelo Carusone told The Verge that “we are going to continue our work undeterred. If he )Musk) sues us, we will win”.

“Musk has spent the last few days making meritless legal threats, elevating bizarre conspiracy theories, and lobbying vicious personal attacks against his ‘enemies’ online. This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence,” he said.

Musk on Tuesday posted: “Fraud has both civil & criminal penalties.”

X CEO Linda Yaccarino said she is 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 Matters. Data wins over manipulation or allegations. Don’t be manipulated. Stand with X,” she argued.

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