The lawsuit on Monday comes as Musk and X, facing specific 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.
In a statement after the lawsuit, Carusone said that “this is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence. Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”
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.
Media Matters published a report last week alleging that X had run ads for major companies next to neo-Nazi posts, prompting companies like Apple, IBM and Disney to pull advertising from the site.
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.
Rebecca Kern contributed to this report.