Updated Nov 20, 2023 - Business

Elon Musk's X sues Media Matters for America

 Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk smiles during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Lancaster House on November 2, 2023 in London, England.

Elon Musk. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk's X Corp. sued Media Matters for America for defamation on Monday after the left-leaning nonprofit released a report on ads on X running next to pro-Nazi content and helped trigger an advertiser exodus.

Driving the news: The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division, alleged the organization's tactics were manipulative and deceptive.

  • X alleged that Media Matters "exploited" the platform to have ads appear this way, which included "excessive scrolling" and curating its feed with "fringe" content.
  • "The overall effect on advertisers and users was to create the false, misleading perception that these types of pairings were common, widespread, and alarming," the lawsuit reads.

What they're saying: X CEO Linda Yaccarino, who has received messages from marketing leaders pushing for her to resign, defended the company in a statement on Monday.

  • "If you know me, you know I'm committed to truth and fairness," she posted.
  • "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."

Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Monday that he is "opening an investigation into Media Matters for potential fraudulent activity," noting Musk's accusation of the organization "manipulating data" on X.

The other side: "This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X's critics into silence. Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court," Media Matters president Angelo Carusone said in a statement on Monday night.

  • Carusone said over the weekend in response to Musk's threat to sue that far from "the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully who threatens meritless lawsuits in an attempt to silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate."

Yes, but: Advertisers are not just concerned with brand safety on the platform. Musk backing an antisemitic conspiracy theory last week also drew ire from marketing chiefs.

  • Musk denounced claims that he is antisemitic in a post on X on Sunday. Yaccarino has not acknowledged those concerns in her public remarks or in her recent memo to X employees.

Read the complaint in full, via DocumentCloud:


Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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