Elon Musk Sues Media Matters Over Report Stating Ads Appeared Next to Antisemitic Content

The defamation lawsuit reportedly alleges that Media Matters used test accounts to follow only extremist and well-known brand accounts and kept “refreshing” their feed until ads appeared next to pro-Nazi content
November 22, 2023
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Elon Musk announced on Monday that X, formerly known as Twitter, will be suing the left-wing Media Matters watchdog over a report claiming that ads were appearing next to antisemitic content.

The defamation lawsuit reportedly alleges that Media Matters used test accounts to follow only extremist and well-known brand accounts and kept “refreshing” their feed until ads appeared next to pro-Nazi content. The report was a purported contributing factor in several major companies like Apple and IBM suspending their advertising on X. The X lawsuit alleges that the Media Matters report did not accurately portray what the platform is like for the average user and instead “exploited” the platform.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino posted on Monday, “If you know me, you know I’m 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.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) also announced on Monday that he will be investigating Media Matters for possible fraudulent activity regarding the results of the report. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) posted on X that his “team is looking into this matter.”

Media Matters President Angelo Carusone dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous” in a Monday statement. “Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court,” he said.

The lawsuit comes after Musk came under fire last week for backing a post claiming that Jewish communities are “pushing hatred against whites,” which was also a reported factor in some companies pausing their ad spending on X. The post, authored by “The Artist Formerly Known as Eric,” stated: “Jewish communities [sic] have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them. I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest s— now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.” Musk replied on November 15: “You have said the actual truth.”

Musk’s comment resulted in condemnation from the White House.

“It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also chastised Musk. “At a time when antisemitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one’s influence to validate and promote antisemitic theories,” Greenblatt wrote on X. “#NeverIsNow.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda Rabbi Abraham Cooper told NBC News, “I don’t understand why Elon Musk, even though it’s his toy, would jump in with this kind of statement, whatever his motivation may be, that further involves him with bigots. I almost feel like saying to him, ‘Grow up.’”

In a subsequent post, Musk elaborated, “The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat. It is not right and needs to stop.” When another X user argued that Musk shouldn’t “generalize the Jewish community,” Musk replied: “You [are] right that this does not extend to all Jewish communities, but it is also not just limited to ADL. And, at the risk of being repetitive, I am deeply offended by ADL’s messaging and any other groups who push de facto anti-white racism or anti-Asian racism or racism of any kind. I’m sick of it. Stop now.”

On Friday, Musk backed a clip circulating on X of Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro saying that Musk’s initial post was “overbroad” but that his subsequent posts were more “specific” and “certainly true.” “There are a lot of liberal Jewish organizations that supported a lot of the same policies that have now imported a lot of people who really hate Jews and Westerners into the West,” Shapiro said during his podcast. “And a lot of the very same people who are pushing DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] intersectional politics are now realizing the wages of that. That’s true. The original tweet was wildly overbroad.” Shapiro proceeded to criticize the media for accusing Musk of antisemitism while “downplaying the open Jew-hatred at massive pro-Hamas protests around the globe.”

Another controversy that X is facing is a report from the leftist organization Media Matters stating that ads from companies like Apple, Amazon and Oracle are appearing next to far-right antisemitic posts, which appear to have also played a role in these companies pausing their ads on X. An X executive told Axios that the platform has demonetized the accounts behind the antisemitic posts and the posts will have a “Sensitive Media” label on them.

Also on November 15, Musk posted on X, “‘Decolonization’ necessarily implies a Jewish genocide, thus it is unacceptable to any reasonable person.” On Friday, he reiterated: “As I said earlier this week, ‘decolonization’, ‘from the river to the sea’ and similar euphemisms necessarily imply genocide. Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension.”

Musk’s Friday post on decolonization sparked praise from Greenblatt. “This is an important and welcome move by @elonmusk,” Greenblatt wrote on X. “I appreciate this leadership in fighting hate.”

Musk also posted to X on Sunday, “This past week, there were hundreds of bogus media stories claiming that I am antisemitic. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wish only the best for humanity and a prosperous and exciting future for all.”

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