Elon Musk’s ‘thermonuclear’ case of ads adjacent to hate X … actually proves it

Elon Musk’s X, formerly Twitter, has filed a lawsuit accusing a news organization of defamation over claims that major companies have ads that appear next to antisemitic content. But the lawsuit appears to prove the very thing it claims is damaging.

Media Matters on Thursday published an article with screenshots showing ads from IBM, Apple, Oracle and others appearing next to hateful content — like, full of pro-Hitler stuff.

IBM and Apple pulled their ads from X, no doubt a serious blow for a company already facing an exodus of advertisers. (It doesn’t help that Musk himself has appeared to personally endorse some antisemitic views.)

The article provoked Musk’s anger, and the billionaire promised over the weekend that “The split second court will open on Monday, X Corp will file a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and all those complicit in this fraudulent attack on our company.”

The case was indeed filed, but it seems the promised warhead is missing. You can read it here, it’s short. The company said Media Matters defamed X, who “created” or “created” the images; that it did not “find” the ads as claimed, but instead had “DOING these pairs secretly. ” (Emphasis theirs.)

If these images were manufactured or created in the manner implied by the language here, it would be a serious blow to the credibility of Media Matters and its reporting. But X’s lawyers aren’t implying that the images were fabricated — in fact, CEO Linda Yaccarino posted today that “only 2 users saw the Apple ad next to the content,” which seems to directly contradict on the idea that pairings are made.

Media Matters definitely sets the conditions for ads to be seen by using an older account (no ad filter), then only follows hateful accounts and the corporate account of advertisers. There is definitely a limited number of users who only follow neo-Nazis and big tech brands. But ads clearly appear in the feed next to that content, as Yaccarino confirmed.

The lawsuit says these accounts “are known to generate extreme, extreme content,” but they were not demonized until Media Matters pointed them out. So X knew they were excessive, but they weren’t demonized – that’s what the lawsuit clearly states.

So there doesn’t appear to be anything inherently fraudulent or contrived about the claim that the ads that appear next to that content. Because they did. This has never happened to a “real user”, but the conditions for that to happen are not very unusual. Angelo Carusone, who heads Media Matters, too designated by X shortly after Yaccarino confirmed that the ads were placed looking for “killjews.”

Moderating hateful content is extremely difficult, of course, and most social networks find it a constant battle against mutations of hateful hashtags, user names, and slang. But Yaccarino earlier admitted that brands are “protected from the risk of being next to” hateful content. Incomplete, it seems.

The inside case shown by Media Matters may not be representative of the average user, but it shows something that is entirely possible with X, and advertisers seem, quite reasonably, to be reluctant to take that risk. . Even unmentioned, X’s lawyers wrote:

Media Matters’ manipulation is so extreme that companies not even featured in the article are also pulling ads from X. These companies include Lionsgate, Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount, and Sony.

That may not be true. For example, Lionsgate specifically said that “Elon’s tweet” was the reason for their decision to leave.

The case, filed in the Northern District Court of Texasdemanded $100,000 in damages and a jury trial, although neither outcome seemed likely.

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