Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, filed a lawsuit against left-wing watchdog group Media Matters for defamation on Nov. 20.
Global brands such as IBM, Comcast, and others began to pull advertising from X after a Media Matters report published on Nov. 16 claimed that ads for major brands appeared next to posts touting Nazism on the platform.
Over the weekend, Elon Musk, owner of X, threatened to file a "thermonuclear" lawsuit against Media Matters "and all those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company."
On Nov. 20, Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino said that "not a single authentic user on X" saw IBM, Comcast, or Oracle ads next to the content that Media Matters reported.
"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."
In a company statement, X previously noted that in another case, another brand mentioned in the report had an ad served adjacent to two posts that were seen by "one user, the author of the Media Matters article."
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Texas, asks the court to order Media Matters to "immediately delete, take down, or otherwise remove" the article and requests unspecified monetary damages.
In statements last week, a number of global companies confirmed that they were pausing ads on X, including IBM, Comcast/NBCUniversal, Lions Gate Entertainment, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Disney. Following its report, Media Matters published a list of companies joining the boycott.
The Media Matters article, sharing screenshots, reported that its researchers "found ads for Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity, and IBM next to posts that tout Hitler and his Nazi Party on X."
An X executive previously told The Epoch Times that the platform isn't "intentionally placing a brand actively next to this type of content, nor is a brand actively trying to support this type of content with an ad placement.”
Instead, the executive said that ads "follow the people on X."
'Contrived Experiences'In a company statement, X said that the Media Matters report “completely misrepresented” the real experience of the majority of users on the platform and called it “another attempt to undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers.”
X stated that Media Matters “created an alternate account” and followed certain accounts, curating the content appearing on the account’s timeline in a bid to "manipulate the public and advertisers." They then “repeatedly refreshed” the account timelines to find “rare instances of ads serving next to the content they chose to follow.”
"These contrived experiences could be applied to any platform," the statement reads.
The company stated that its logs show that Media Matters "forced a scenario," resulting in "13 times the number of ads served" compared to the average user. It was also noted that out of the 5.5 billion ad impressions logged that day, less than 50 ad impressions were served against the organic content cited in the report.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone said earlier on Nov. 20 that the watchdog's report contradicted statements by X about the introduction of 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 told Reuters.
In a note to staff on Nov. 19, Ms. Yaccarino said that while some advertisers had paused their investments following the report's publication, X has been clear about its efforts to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination on the platform.
X has accused Media Matters, legacy media outlets, and other activist groups of trying to "undermine freedom of expression" on the platform "because they perceive it as a threat to their ideological narrative and those of their financial supporters.”
Representatives for Media Matters didn't respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Nov. 20 that his office is opening an investigation into Media Matters for "potential fraudulent activity."
“We are examining the issue closely to ensure that the public has not been deceived by the schemes of radical left-wing organizations who would like nothing more than to limit freedom by reducing participation in the public square,” Mr. Paxton said in a statement.
The Texas attorney general's office stated that it would "vigorously enforce against nonprofits that commit fraudulent acts in or affect Texas" under the Texas Business Organizations Code and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
This comes after Missouri's Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey said on Nov. 19 that his legal team was "looking into" the matter.