Online platform X sues critics after advertisers flee

Elon Musk's online platform X has sued the authors of a critical report that scared off major advertisers such as IBM, Apple and Disney last week.

Image: Alexander Shatov; Unsplash.

Twitter's successor accuses the organization Media Matters for America of deliberately manipulating ads from well-known companies to appear alongside Nazi posts and anti-Semitic statements. Media Matters CEO Angelo Carusone replied that his organization continues to stand by the report and looks forward to winning in court.

In the lawsuit, X claims that Media Matters artificially created a situation in which the ads appeared alongside posts with extremist content - for example, through a targeted selection of profiles and frequent updating of the ad. However, the organization had concealed this and thus created the impression that it had discovered the pairings. In previous similar allegations by Media Matters, ads from well-known companies could also be found next to extremist content for other users without manipulation.

Advertising next to hate speech content

Companies and organizations have only limited influence over which posts their ads are placed next to. The ads are displayed with reference to target age groups, specific areas or user interests. In order to avoid a negative environment for their brands, advertisers are particularly reliant on X consistently keeping hate speech off the platform - or at least not placing ads next to it. Otherwise, a user may scroll through an extremist account and be shown ads based on their usual interests.

Other online services have also had similar problems with their advertising customers in the past, for example Google's video platform YouTube. At the time, it tightened its content supervision in order to win back advertising customers. X is headquartered in San Francisco and officially based in Nevada - but Musk filed the lawsuit in Texas, a state in which the government and large sections of the population hold very conservative views. At the same time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a well-known advocate of right-wing political views, launched an investigation into Media Matters.

Not only is Musk's aerospace company SpaceX active in Texas, he also had the headquarters of the electric car manufacturer Tesla, which he runs, moved there from California. (sda)

More articles on the topic