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  • Writer's pictureAdam Breeden

X Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Media Matters

Twitter, formally known as X, filed a lawsuit against Media Matters on Monday, November 20th, 2023. This was in response to Media Matters’ report on November 16th, 2023, alleging that X was placing Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity, and IBM ads next to white nationalist hashtags and content.

Major advertisers such as IBM, Comcast, CBS, Apple, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Disney pulled their advertisements from the platform after the Media Matters report’s findings went live.

The lawsuit alleges that Media Matters “knowingly and maliciously” portrayed ads next to hateful material “as if they were what a typical X users experience on the platform.” X added that Media Matters manipulated the algorithm and results by opening fake accounts, following only thirty select accounts with mostly extreme content, then refreshing until ads were shown next to racist material.

“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.” CEO of X, Linda Yaccarino, wrote in a post on the platform soon after the Media Matters report was published, “X has been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There's absolutely no place for it anywhere in the world.”

Media Matters responded to this lawsuit, saying “This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence. Media Matters stands behind its report.”

This case involves first amendment implications as to free speech and freedom of the press. Should Media Matters be held liable for truthful reporting, even if they faked the data by artificially creating accounts to get the results they desired? There is some precedent for liability of news programs for manipulating results of this manner under Texas law, including an investigative journalism program being sued for manipulating crash test results of an auto manufacturer. This complaint is pending in the Fifth Judicial District of Texas under the case number 4:23-CV-1175.

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