Elon Musk, as head of X (formerly Twitter), will sue Media Matters for America, presumably alleging fraud and business interference. He announced this the day after Media Matters posted a front-page story alleging that X had placed content from several high-profile advertisers, next to content allegedly encouraging people to harass Jews and members of other groups, mostly client groups of leftist politicians and activists. But the true story is probably one of overgeneralization by everyone involved.
What Elon Musk said
Elon Musk announced the action after at least two stories appeared on Media Matters in as many days about X. On Thursday (November 16), MM alleged that Musk endorsed an account saying that Jewish activists were facilitating large-scale immigration with the apparent goal of replacing white people of European descent with non-whites in America.
Here is the post about which MM complains:
In reply to that, Elon Musk posted, “You have said the actual truth.” But CNAV has never observed such behavior as the account alleges; nor has any witness whom CNAV has asked. If any leftist activists, who happen to be Jewish, have said or done anything this account alleged, then they move in far different circles than typical citizens.
Having said that, CNAV has observed that the Fourth Arab-Israeli War has split the grand leftist coalition. It has split the right, too. But the split is far more prominent on the left, with leftist politicians and commentators openly supporting a movement that has committed an incredible series of atrocities. So now someone suggests that certain Jewish people are learning that their putative allies “don’t exactly like them too much.” This is what that person is talking about.
How MM reacted
But the Media Matters story rapidly degenerated into confusion at best. Among other things, they quoted an influencer named “Amanda” as citing another account named Autumn Groyper for agreeing with Musk’s statement.
But notice: she said the other accountholder’s name was Nicholas J. Fuentes. In fact, X’s Trust and Safety team banned Nick Fuentes from the platform years ago. Several users pointed this out in reply to this post. More to the point, no one who was party to that conversation, tried to alleged that Nicholas J. Fuentes and Autumn Groyper are one and the same person. But Media Matters blithely assumed that the identification by “Amanda” of Nick Fuentes as the one praising Musk, was correct.
In another example of sloppy reporting, the same article alleged that Fox News played “middleman” between Elon Musk and the man convicted of shooting eleven congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018. Evidently no one told them about Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) seeking to remember those victims – and catching flak for it. In fact, Media Matters spends all its time reporting on apparent antisemitic statements from the right. Yet they ignore antisemitic statements from the left, some of which are also on the platform.
Yesterday Media Matters published another piece along the same lines. They also linked to several other articles they have posted in the same vein. Perhaps in response, several advertisers pulled their ads – and Media Matters boasted of this.
Elon Musk announces his lawsuit
Today Elon Musk announced his lawsuit, in definite, even hyperbolic, terms:
He later said he would sue “their board, their donors, their network of dark money, all of them.”
In a statement he embedded as a photograph, Elon Musk made four specific factual allegations against Media Matters. Specifically, he said they:
- “Created an alternative account and curated the posts and advertising appearing on the account’s timeline.” The purpose? “To misinform advertisers about the placement of their posts.”
- “Refreshed their timelines to find a rare instance of ads serving next to the content they chose to follow.” Elon Musk claims to have logs supporting this allegation.
- Highlighted fifty problematic ad placements out of 5.5 billion ad impressions on the day in question. That amounts to less than one-millionth of a percent.
- Highlighted nine posts they felt should not appear on any platform. Only one of these violates the current X Rules.
Many social-media critics, including the plaintiffs in Missouri v. Biden, have alleged that the former Twitter changed its Rules often. They did this at the behest of the government. Evidently Media Matters would have supported such behest.
Chris Pavlovski, head of Rumble.com, gave a loud cheer.
Reuters reported on this lawsuit early, and more recently updated their story to reflect comment from Media Matters. They made much of condemnation of Elon Musk for appearing to endorse a common antisemitic trope or tropes. (One such condemnation came from the Biden administration.) Furthermore, they cited the Anti-defamation League as saying that antisemitic incidents had increased 400 percent since the Gaza war began. Yet they said nothing about who is responsible for most of those incidents, or how violent they are. Thus far, no one has accused Musk of calling for violence against Jews, or endorsing anyone who actually has. Threats of, or calls for, violence violate the X rules and constitute grounds for suspension.
Reuters did quote Angelo Carusone, head of Media Matters, as saying,
Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified.
But Carusone did not say how often those ads ran, nor by what manipulation his group achieved those results.
In sum, Media Matters has engaged in sloppy reporting, which is bad enough. They also have manipulated X’s algorithm for ad placement – and even so, achieved barely detectable placement. Recall the proportion: less than one millionth of one percent. Thus Elon Musk asserts that the Media Matters case “does not reflect the user experience on X.”
Musk will likely file his case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco Division). X has its headquarters in San Francisco.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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