Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has declared his intention to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters for America, a US media watchdog. This follows the watchdog’s claims that advertisements from major brands, including IBM, Apple, Oracle, and Comcast’s Xfinity, were appearing alongside antisemitic content on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Advertisements Suspended Amid Controversial Content
Media Matters for America revealed earlier this week that corporate ads, such as those for IBM, were being placed next to content promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party on X. IBM responded promptly by suspending all advertising on the platform. The watchdog’s intervention came a day after a social media user propagated the “great replacement” conspiracy theory on X, claiming they “have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”
Musk’s Controversial Response
Elon Musk, known for his outspoken presence on social media, responded to the user’s post, seemingly endorsing the controversial theory. His response sparked a series of events that led to major brands, including Disney, Warner Bros Discovery, Comcast, Lions Gate Entertainment, and Paramount Global, pausing their ads on X. Apple is also reportedly following suit.
Musk Accuses Advertisers of Suppressing Free Speech
Facing a growing exodus of advertisers on his platform, Musk took to X to express his dissatisfaction. In a post, he stated, “Many of the largest advertisers are the greatest oppressors of your right to free speech.” Musk went further in a second post, announcing, “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.”
Media Matters Responds to Musk’s Threat
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone responded to Musk’s threat, dismissing it as an attempt to silence accurate reporting. Carusone emphasized Musk’s acknowledgment that the ads did run alongside the pro-Nazi content identified by the watchdog. “If he does sue us, we will win,” Carusone declared.
Major Brands Join the Ad Exodus
In the wake of the controversy, major brands have taken a stand by suspending their advertisements on X. IBM, Apple, Lions Gate Entertainment, and Disney have confirmed their decision to halt spending on the platform while investigations into the situation unfold.
X’s Content Policy Under Scrutiny
X’s content policy explicitly prohibits content that targets individuals or groups with references to violence or violent events where a protected category is the primary target. Despite this policy, antisemitic and pro-Nazi content continues to surface on the platform, raising questions about the effectiveness of X’s moderation efforts.
Previous Instances of Musk’s Confrontation
This is not Elon Musk’s first time in a clash with watchdog groups. In September, he threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), accusing them of attempting to undermine the platform with allegations of antisemitism. Musk claimed that ADL promotes “de facto anti-white racism,” a charge the civil rights advocacy group strongly refuted.
White House Weighs In
The controversy has reached the highest levels of government, with the White House condemning Musk’s actions. In a statement, the White House accused Musk of spreading “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.” The administration deemed it “unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” the statement said.
As the situation unfolds, all eyes are on the impending legal battle between Elon Musk’s X Corp and Media Matters for America, with broader implications for free speech and accountability on social media platforms.