Musk threatens ‘thermonuclear lawsuit’ against media watchdog, calls advertisers ‘oppressors’
Elon Musk lashed out at big advertisers and Media Matters, a media watchdog, on Friday after several major brands decided to stop spending on X, the social media platform he owns and operates. run as CTO.
Musk wrote late Friday night, “The second split court opens on Monday, X Corp files a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and EVERYONE involved in this fraudulent attack on our company. ” He said, “Their board, their donors, their network of dark money, all of them…” and “the discovery and the glorious investments will be seen,” in subsequent tweets.
Media Matters for America (MMFA) published a report last week showing ads for mainstream brands on X, formerly known as Twitter, running alongside user posts expressing pro- Nazi. The report came after Musk personally sent a series of tweets that the White House called “hateful incitement of antisemitic hatred and racism”.
In response, advertisers including Apple, Comcast/ NBC Universal (parent of CNBC.com), Disney, IBM, Lion’s Gate, Paramount Globaland Warner Bros. foundthen decided to halt their advertising spending, at least temporarily, on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Musk showed off a paid, ad-free subscription version of X in a tweet following news of suspended campaigns. He wrote, “Premium+ also has no ads in your timeline. Many of the biggest advertisers are infringing on your right to free speech.” He did not specify which large advertisers he believes are “oppressors”.
A spokesman for X, Joe Benarroch, sent an email to a company blog post to CNBC which claims that Media Matters has “grossly misrepresented the actual user experience” of the social network.
He also said in the email: “Media Affairs they created another X account and deliberately followed sensitive accounts to book posts and get ads to appear on the account’s timeline to then mislead advertisers about their post status. These exciting experiences could be created on any social media platform.”
There are other social networks like Facebook, Reddit and TikTok, are engaging in brand safety and moderation of hate and fake content on their platforms as well. However, Musk himself has opted out for personally increasing the views of his own tweets, including a few weeks ago, to more than 163 million registered followers there.
In late October, user X complained that a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee was melted down in Charlottesville, Virgina. The bronze was slated for use in new public art that would not glorify the losers of the Civil War. The user, who said he was related to the general lamented, “my kind is hated and many seek our denial. ” Musk then responded in agreement: “They absolutely want you to disappear.”
Last week, Musk agreed with a post falsely claiming that Jews have been pushing “hate speech” against white people. Musk called the antisemitic post “the real truth,” prompting backlash from brands, critics and even the White House.
On the morning of November 17, the White House warned Musk that he had engaged in “promoting antisemitic hatred and racism” that “contradicts our core values as Americans.” .”
Later on Friday, Musk announced a new policy for his social network: “As I said earlier this week, ‘decolonisation’, ‘from the river to the sea’ and similar euphemisms necessarily mean genocide. Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will be stopped.”
Leader of the ADL Jonathan Greenblatt has praised Musk’s promise to stop accounts engaging in what he sees as genocidal speech. Musk has been critical of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish-led group that fights against hate speech and discrimination. He also threatened to sue the ADL, but has yet to sue.
It is not clear if or when X Corp. lawsuit against Media Matters, or whatever jurisdiction. X is based in San Francisco while the media watchdog is based in Washington, DC
Media Matters president Angelo Carusone said in a statement emailed to CNBC on Saturday:
“From the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully who is threatening a frivolous lawsuit in an attempt to stop a statement he even confirmed to it is correct. Musk admitted that the ads involved ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. he claims us, we will win.”
– CNBC’s Jonathan Vanian contributed to the report