X, formerly Twitter, has followed through on Elon Musk’s threat to sue Media Matters. As reported by Media Matters last week, X “places ads next to content that promotes Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.” Musk and X CEO Linda Yaccarino have labeled the report unrepresentative of X’s general user experience. Even so, some companies pulled ads after Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory, and Musk claims Media Matters is legally responsible for X’s loss.
In the lawsuit, X confirms that the screenshots Media Matters shared are real. However, it claims that Media Matters “manipulated” the platform to create misleading images. X says Media Matters followed brands and extremists to refresh their feed until ads appeared next to offensive content.
At around the same time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened an investigation into Media Matters for alleged fraud. Paxton is a conservative supporter of Musk. Media Matters denies any wrongdoing and plans to fight the lawsuit.
As one of the world’s richest men, Musk has major resources to pursue this case. Curiously, X filed in Texas instead of its home state of California. Texas has laws that make it harder for Media Matters to call this a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). Filing in Texas also puts the case under more conservative appeals judges.
For its part, X worries losing advertisers could hurt revenue. CEO Yaccarino said some paused spending temporarily but talks with others went well. Regardless, X is set for a showdown with fact-checkers like Media Matters in court. With billions at stake, this lawsuit promises to be a high-profile fight over content moderation on the new X.