X, the owner of a social network, has filed a lawsuit against Media Matters, a media watchdog group, over their research that showed ads appearing next to antisemitic content. This lawsuit was prompted by an exodus of advertisers from the platform due to Media Matters’ findings. In the complaint, X stated that 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 national fringe content.” Media Matters was accused of driving advertisers away from the platform by designing these images and a resulting media strategy to portray them as the typical user’s experience on the platform.
TechCrunch reported that Media Matters did not manufacture the images used in their research, but they conducted an investigation to bypass the website’s ad filters and follow users known to produce “extreme, fringe content” along with the biggest advertisers on the platform. X accused Media Matters of generating a forced, inauthentic viewing experience and not providing any context regarding the nature of the advertisements seen. X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, responded by stating that no authentic users on X saw certain ads next to hateful content. However, Media Matters head Angelo Carusone retweeted posts from seemingly authentic users showing ads next to hateful content.
In addition to the lawsuit filed by X, Media Matters is also under investigation by Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, for potential fraudulent activity. Paxton referred to Media Matters as “a radical anti-free speech” organization and stated that his office is looking into the group to ensure that the public has not been deceived by their actions.
The media watchdog’s findings were published after Elon Musk, the owner of X, responded to a tweet containing antisemitic remarks. This led to several big-name advertisers pulling their campaigns from the platform, including IBM, Apple, Disney, and Paramount. Lionsgate specifically cited Elon’s tweet as the reason for pulling its ads.
These events have sparked a legal and ethical battle between X and Media Matters, with both parties seeking to defend their actions and accusations. It remains to be seen how this conflict will unfold and what impact it will have on the future of the social network and media watchdog activities. The legal proceedings and investigations could shed light on the responsibilities and boundaries of social media platforms and media monitoring organizations in an ever-evolving digital landscape.