Elon Musk on Monday made good on his promise to sue Media Matters, filing a federal lawsuit that accuses the left-leaning watchdog group and one of its reporters of doctoring images in an article that showed ads for major corporations next to posts depicting hate speech on X, Musk’s social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
In a complaint filed in a Texas federal court, lawyers for X argued that Media Matters “knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts” on X. The lawsuit alleges that the images and the media promotion of that research were done with the intention “to drive advertisers from the platform and destroy” X, citing “a blatant smear campaign” against the company over the last year.
The lawsuit comes as Musk and X, facing allegations that they endorsed and promoted antisemitic content on the platform, try to quell a recent exodus of advertisers.
The complaint contends that an internal investigation found that Media Matters used accounts for its research that bypassed “X’s ad filter for new users” and followed only accounts “known to produce extreme, fringe content” and “accounts owned by X’s big-name advertisers.”
The complaint further alleges that Media Matters “resorted to endlessly scrolling and refreshing its unrepresentative, hand-selected feed … until it finally received pages containing the result it wanted: controversial content next to X’s largest advertisers’ paid posts.”
Shortly after Musk filed his lawsuit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has in the past aligned himself with the tech mogul, announced that his office would open a probe into “potential fraudulent activity” by Media Matters.
Ahead of the lawsuit, Media Matters’ president, Angelo Carusone, said in a statement that “we are going to continue our work undeterred. If he sues us, we will win.”
Media Matters did not immediately respond to a request for updated comment in light of the lawsuit and Paxton’s announcement of an investigation.
Musk — the richest person in the world and the owner of Tesla and SpaceX — pledged over the weekend to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters, a self-described “progressive research and information center” that says it monitors “conservative disinformation,” in response to the advertising boycott on X.
That research challenged earlier claims from X CEO Linda Yaccarino, who had said that brands are now “protected from the risk of being next to” potentially toxic content on the platform.
The battle with Media Matters also comes as Musk — the owner of Tesla and SpaceX, who bought Twitter last year and then rebranded it — has come under fire for what some have characterized as tolerating and, at times, encouraging antisemitism on the social media platform. Musk himself appeared to express his support for an antisemitic tweet as “the actual truth” of what Jewish people were doing amid Israel’s war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The White House starkly condemned the post, and the tweet has been seen as a precipitating factor in the advertising exodus the company has experienced over the last few days.