Elon Musk is promising to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” first thing Monday morning against nonprofit Media Matters after the liberal watchdog released a bombshell report finding that X, formerly known as Twitter, was placing ads for major brands next to pro-Nazi and white nationalist content.
The report came just a day after Musk responded to a post on Wednesday that endorsed the “great replacement theory,” a white nationalist and antisemitic ideology popular among right-wing extremists, including several mass shooters. The poster accused Jewish communities of pushing “hatred against whites” and supporting “hordes of minorities” that are “flooding their country.” Musk wrote that the author had “said the actual truth.”
Musk’s response earned him a rebuke from the White House, which released a statement Friday decrying his comments as an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.”
Using analytics, Media Matters discovered that X had been putting ads for big brands like Apple, Bravo (NBCUniversal), IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity (Comcast) right next to posts from “pro-Hitler, Holocaust denial, white nationalist, pro-violence, and neo-Nazi accounts,” even as X CEO Linda Yaccarino has assured brands that they’re “protected from the risk of being next to” toxic posts.
The findings kicked off a quickly growing list of major advertisers boycotting the social media platform. On Thursday, IBM said it was pausing ad spending on the platform, citing “zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination.” Disney, the entertainment company Lionsgate, CBS-owner Paramount Global, and Apple made similar moves on Friday.
Musk vowed in a Friday night post to sue “Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack” on X “the split second court opens on Monday.” In a statement attached to the post, Musk said the Media Matters reporting “completely misrepresented the real experience on X, in another attempt to undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers.”
This isn’t the first time Musk has tried to intimidate those who criticize his changes to the platform, which has seen a dramatic uptick in hate speech since he purchased it for $44 billion in April 2022. In September, Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors antisemitism, claiming that the ADL’s criticism of Musk’s attitude toward hate speech was the main reason for Twitter’s advertising revenue tanking by 60%. Last month, X informed employees it was worth just $19 billion.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate, the nonprofit online watchdog organization, filed a motion on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit X filed in August accusing the CCDH of trying to scare away its advertisers. The CCDH claimed X’s lawsuit is “riddled with legal deficiencies” and amounts to an attack on its freedom of speech.?
The nonprofit, which, like Media Matters, has brought to light the rise of racist and neo-Nazi content on the platform, issued a report that found that X “continues to host the overwhelming majority of a sample of posts that breach platform rules for promoting antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian hate and other hateful rhetoric in the wake of the Israel-Gaza crisis.”