Texas AG Opens Up Criminal Investigation Into Media Matters

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is looking into Media Matters for “potential fraudulent activity” after Elon Musk accused the left-wing media watchdog organization of altering statistics on the social networking site.

Following the departure of a spate of sponsors, including IBM, Apple, Disney, Lionsgate, and Paramount, Musk threatened the watchdog organization with a “thermonuclear lawsuit.” Musk followed through with that threat on Monday.

On Friday, Media Matters issued a report accusing X of putting advertisements near “white nationalist hashtags.” Musk, on the other hand, accuses the radical advocacy group of having “completely misrepresented the real user experience” in order to deceive advertisers and the public at-large about X.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a Republican, stated on Sunday that his legal staff was “looking into” a potential criminal case. After becoming “extremely troubled” by the accusations, Paxton has launched an official inquiry with his office.

“We are examining the issue closely to ensure that the public has not been deceived by the schemes of radical left-wing organizations who would like nothing more than to limit freedom by reducing participation in the public square,” said Paxton.

“Under the Texas Business Organizations Code and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the OAG will vigorously enforce against nonprofits who commit fraudulent acts in or affecting the state of Texas,” said the Texas Attorney General’s office.

Musk was attacked last week after responding on a post on X that opponents claimed was anti-Semitic. Since then, the tech mogul has made it clear that anyone who posts genocidal propaganda will be banned from X.

“At risk of stating the obvious, anyone advocating the genocide of *any* group will be suspended from this platform,” Musk wrote in a post on X.

“As I said earlier this week, ‘decolonization’, ‘from the river to the sea’ and similar euphemisms necessarily imply genocide. Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension,” Musk wrote.

Billionaire tech CEO Elon Musk on Monday filed a “thermonuclear” lawsuit against Media Matters, the radical advocacy group behind an organized advertising boycott campaign.

The complaint requests unspecified monetary damages as well as an injunction ordering Media Matters to “immediately delete, take down, or otherwise remove” the article titled “As Musk endorses antisemitic conspiracy theory, X has been placing ads for Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity next to pro-Nazi content.”

On November 16, Media Matters revealed research revealing that five big businesses — Apple, IBM, NBCUniversal’s Bravo, Oracle, and Comcast’s Xfinity — had their ads broadcast next to postings that “tout Hitler and his Nazi Party” on X. A day later, Media Matters released a report saying that it discovered advertisements for Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal Catalyst, Action Network, and Club for Growth with white supremacist hashtags like “KeepEuropeWhite,” “white pride,” and “WLM” (“White Lives Matter”).

According to X’s lawsuit, Media Matters’ goal was to depict the Musk-owned social site “as being dominated by ‘white nationalist and antisemitic conspiracy theories,’” according to the complaint. “This November alone Media Matters released over twenty articles (and counting) disparaging both X Corp. and Elon Musk — a blatant smear campaign.”

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division.

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The following tech and media companies, as well as a governmental body, have recently suspended their advertising on X:

• IBM
• Apple
• Disney
• Comcast
• Lionsgate
• Paramount
• Warner Bros
• NBC Universal
• European Commission

However, there are now serious questions about whether or not evidence of this alleged conflict of interest for these brands was manufactured.

ALX, a conservative influencer, posted a number of screenshots of the alleged ad placements and reported that X denied being able to locate the problematic ad spots in logs.

“Media Matters’ screenshots show @Apple ads being served next to this content,” ALX noted. “? tells me that they analyzed their logs, and there is no evidence that the Apple ad was served next to any of the posts in the chain. This analysis encompassed all possible placements. The sweep also analyzed posts 2 posts away. Is Media Matters using fake screenshots?”

Musk this weekend announced he was filing a lawsuit against those who colluded in the “fraudulent attack.”

“The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company,” he noted.

On Saturday, X issued a missive to “stand with X to protect free speech”:

This week Media Matters for America posted a story that completely misrepresented the real user experience on X, in another attempt to undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers.

Above everything, including profit, X works to protect the public’s right to free speech. But for speech to be truly free, we must also have the freedom to see or hear things that some people may consider objectionable. We believe that everyone has the right to make up their own minds about what to read, watch, or listen to – because that’s the power of freedom of speech.

Despite our clear and consistent position, X has seen a number of attacks from activist groups like Media Matters and legacy media outlets who seek to undermine freedom of expression on our platform because they perceive it as a threat to their ideological narrative and those of their financial supporters. These groups try to use their influence to attack our revenue streams by deceiving advertisers on X.

Here are the facts on Media Matters’ research, according to the missive:

  • To manipulate the public and advertisers, Media Matters created an alternate account and curated the posts and advertising appearing on the account’s timeline to misinform advertisers about the placement of their posts. These contrived experiences could be applied to any platform.
  • Once they curated their feed, they repeatedly refreshed their timelines to find a rare instance of ads serving next to the content they chose to follow. Our logs indicate that they forced a scenario resulting in 13 times the number of ads served compared to the median ads served to an X user.
  • Of the 5.5 billion ad impressions on X that day, less than 50 total ad impressions were served against all of the organic content featured in the Media Matters article.
  • For one brand showcased in the article, one of its ads ran adjacent to a post 2 times and that ad was seen in that setting by only two users, one of which was the author of the Media Matters article.
  • For another brand showcased in the article, two of its ads served adjacent to 2 posts, 3 times, and that ad was only seen in that setting by one user, the author of the Media Matters article.
  • Media Matters’ article also highlights nine posts they believe should not be allowed on X. Upon evaluation, only one of the nine organic posts featured in the article violated our content policies, and we’ve taken action on it under our Freedom of Speech, Not Reach enforcement approach.

X then posted a summary:

  1. X will protect the public’s right to free expression. We will not allow agenda-driven activists, or even our own profits, to deter our vision.
  2. Everyone has a choice on X. User and brand controls on X are superior to a year ago.
  3. Data wins over allegations. Media Matters does not reflect the user experience on X.

“As we’ve seen in some parts of the world, when free expression is taken away, it is very dangerous and hard to get back – that’s why the people who came before us fought so hard to protect,” X notes. “Without freedom of speech we lose the checks and balances critical to a thriving democracy. We must defend our individual rights as if our lives, and flourishing society, depend on it.”

“If you’re really in on protecting free speech, then we all need to protect it completely.  Stand with X to protect free speech.”

It looks like X is doing just that.

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By Melinda Davies
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