A media watchdog group is suing social media company X for a claim that it placed advertisements from major corporations next to content that was neo-Nazi and white nationalist.
X accuses Media Matters of tampering with the site’s algorithm to “drive advertisers from the platform and destroy the Corporation” in a lawsuit that was filed on Monday.
According to the Texas federal court lawsuit, Media Matters “maliciously” portrayed ads appearing next to neo-Nazi and white nationalist material as typical when, in reality, it only followed specific accounts and “endlessly” refreshed the feed to produce the desired content.
Soon after, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared that his office would look into “potential fraudulent activity” in the media.
Elon Musk, the owner of X, threatened to sue Media Matters and anyone “who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company” over the weekend in a “thermonuclear” lawsuit.
Since Media Matters reported last week that advertisements for well-known companies like Apple, IBM, and Oracle have appeared alongside content that “touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party,” X, formerly Twitter, has seen an exodus of advertisers.
The advertiser exodus, which includes Lions Gate Entertainment, Apple, Disney, IBM, and others, also comes amid controversy over Musk’s support for a post last week that claimed Jews harbored animosity toward white people and encouraged “hordes of minorities” to immigrate.
The White House, which denounced Musk’s “abhorrent promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hatred,” joined the outburst of criticism after he said the post was the “actual truth.”
Al Jazeera asked for comment, but X didn’t respond right away.
According to a post made on Monday by X CEO Linda Yaccarino, “data wins over manipulation or allegations” and “no authentic user” on the platform saw ads next to the content mentioned by Media Matters.”
“Don’t fall for manipulation.” Yaccarino wrote, “Stand with X.”
Following his earlier description of Media Matters as “pure evil,” Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion last year, claimed in a post referencing the Texas investigation that fraud carries both criminal and civil penalties.
David Brock, a member of the US Democratic Party, founded Media Matters in 2004, but it didn’t respond right away when asked for comment.
The “frivolous lawsuit” was meant to intimidate the platform’s detractors into silence, according to Media Matters President and CEO Angelo Carusone in a post on X.