X sues Media Matters over adverts report


Social media company, X, on Monday, sued media watchdog group, Media Matters, alleging the organisation defamed the platform after it published a report that said adverts for major brands had appeared next to posts touting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

X, formerly Twitter, has faced growing outrage since Media Matters published the report on Thursday, which led IBM, Comcast, and several other advertisers to pull ads from the platform in response.

In the lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in Texas, X claimed Media Matters “manipulated” the social media platform by using accounts that exclusively followed accounts for major brands or users known to produce fringe content, and “resorted to endlessly scrolling and refreshing” the feed until it found ads next to extremist posts.

Media Matters’ report misrepresented the typical experience on X “with the intention of harming X and its business,” the company said in the lawsuit.

Media Matters’ President, Angelo Carusone, called the lawsuit “frivolous” in an emailed statement and said it was “meant to bully X’s critics into silence”.

“Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court,” he added.

In an interview with Reuters earlier on Monday, Carusone said the nonprofit’s findings flew in the face of X’s statements that it had introduced safety protections to prevent ads from appearing next to harmful content.

“If you search for white nationalist content, there are ads flourishing. The system they say exists is not operating as such,” he said.

X said in the lawsuit that ads for IBM, Comcast, and Oracle only appeared alongside hateful content for one viewer, which the company said was Media Matters.

“Data wins over manipulation or allegations. Don’t be manipulated. Stand with X,” X Chief Executive, Linda Yaccarino, posted on Monday.

Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, on Monday, said his office was opening an investigation into Media Matters and that he was “extremely troubled” by allegations that the group manipulated data on X.

Since Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022, a stream of advertisers have fled the platform, wary of some of Musk’s controversial posts and layoffs of employees who worked to moderate content.

The platform’s U.S. ad revenue has declined at least 55 per cent year-over-year each month since Musk’s takeover.

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