Twitter/X is suing media watchdog group Media Matters over its Nov. 16 report that the social media platform displayed ads from big companies alongside Nazi content. The report came just a day after Twitter/X owner Elon Musk endorsed an anti-Semitic plot, prompting huge advertisers such as Apple and Disney to flee.
Filed Monday in Texas, Twitter/X’s lawsuit accuses Media Matters of “fabricating” screenshots from its report that show advertisers’ posts alongside white nationalist content. According to Twitter/X, this was a deliberate and malicious attack aimed at “driving advertisers off the platform and destroying X Corp.”
X advertisers who reportedly recently removed ads: See the list, including Disney and Apple.
“Split-second court opens Monday, X Corp will file thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and EVERYONE who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company,” Musk posted to Twitter/X over the weekend.
Unfortunately for Musk, the “thermonuclear” nature of his trial is highly questionable.
What is the Twitter/X vs Media Matter trial about?
Twitter/X is not claiming that the screenshots in the recent Media Matters report were fake or created via image-editing software. In fact, it validates them as real, confirming that Media Matters did indeed see Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity, and IBM ads alongside posts celebrating Nazism on Twitter/X.
Instead, the lawsuit alleges, Media Matters was able to see advertisers’ content alongside Nazi content by using profiles active for more than 30 days, “bypassing X’s ad filter for new users,” and by following only top advertiser accounts or “those known for producing extreme fringe content.” The social media platform also claimed that Media Matters was excessively scrolling and refreshing its feed, causing it to view more ads per hour than most users.
Twitter/X is seeking damages and the removal of the Media Matters report, which will no doubt encourage many more people to read it.
Not quite “thermonuclear”
The lawsuit attempts to characterize Media Matter’s use of Twitter/X as manipulation of the platform’s algorithm, and claims its results were “inorganic” and “rare.” However, this does not prevent advertisers and Nazi content from being presented side by side. It’s also not impossible that an established user could follow both white supremacist accounts and big brands.
Other Twitter/X users have since reported receive ads when searching for anti-Semitic phrasesincluding messages from german governmentA Israeli oil and gas companyNew Jersey Tourism and The Athletic.
Interestingly, Twitter/X’s claim that Media Matters followed accounts “known for producing extremely fringe content” further indicates that the platform allowed these profiles to continue posting white supremacist content long enough to gain notoriety. As of this writing, half of the accounts screenshotted by Media Matters posting Nazi content still remain active.
The tweet may have been deleted
Amid all this, Linda Yaccarino, CEO of Twitter/X, confirmed that the platform was indeed displaying posts from big advertisers alongside white supremacist content, but tried to downplay it by stating that almost no one saw it .
“Not a single authentic user on Yaccarino posted Monday. “Only 2 users saw the Apple ad alongside the content, at least one of which was Media Matters.”
Even so, the objections are probably less about how many people have seen it and more about the fact that it’s a possibility in the first place.
Twitter/X seeks a scapegoat
Combined with Musk’s recent comments supporting a conspiracy theory that Jews incite hatred against white people, it’s not hard to see why advertisers such as IBM, Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global suspend advertising on Twitter/X.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit designed to intimidate critics of X into silence,” Media Matters President Angelo Carusone wrote on Twitter/X. “Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”
The tweet may have been deleted
This is not the first time that brands have stopped their advertising on Twitter/X due to Nazi content. In August, pharmaceutical giant Gilead and NCTA – Internet & Television Association both stopped advertising on Twitter/X after a previous Media Matters report found ads displayed over white supremacist content. Alongside Gilead, the report specifically cites several other companies such as Adobe, Amazon, Fortune, MLB, Samsung and Sports Illustrated.
However, it appears the loss of giants like Apple and Disney has been enough for Twitter/X to attempt to scapegoat Media Matters – and hope the courts will simply ignore its advertiser-hostile policies and Musk’s own statements.