Attorney General Ken Paxton Launches Investigation into “Radical Anti-Free Speech Organization” Media Matters Over Fraudulent Activity
On Monday, X (formerly Twitter) filed a federal lawsuit against Media Matters and Eric Hananoki in the Northern District of Texas.
“Media Matters knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on X Corp.’s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist fringe content and then portrayed these manufactured images as if they were what typical X users experience on the platform,” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint added, “Media Matters has opted for new tactics in its campaign to drive advertisers from X. Media Matters has manipulated the algorithms governing the user experience on X to bypass safeguards and create images of X’s largest advertisers’ paid posts adjacent to racist, incendiary content, leaving the false impression that these pairings are anything but what they actually are: manufactured, inorganic, and extraordinarily rare.”
“Media Matters generated a specific, intended result that was not only inorganic, but exceedingly (and demonstrably) rare, all while taking specific steps to obscure this in its November 16, 2023 article. The overall effect on advertisers and users was to create the false, misleading perception that these types of pairings were common, widespread, and alarming. Media Matters hid its manipulations through omissions, deceptive image selections, misrepresentations, and secrecy settings.”
You can read the full lawsuit here.
It can be recalled that Elon Musk announced early Saturday morning that his company X-Corp will be filing a “thermo-nuclear” lawsuit against Media Matters “the second court opens on Monday.”
Elon added that he will sue “Their board, their donors, their network of dark money, all of them…”
In his statement he released, Elon accused Media Matters of creating a fake account that then curated the posts and advertising appearing on the account’s timeline to misinform advertisers about the placement of their posts.
Elon and X Corp caught Media Matters lying to X advertisers about their ad placements. They caught Media Matters in completely fraudulent activity.
Here are the facts on Media Matters’ research from X’s press release:
- 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
- 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.
Here’s a summary on this all:
- 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.
- Everyone has a choice on X. User and brand control on X is superior to a year ago.
- Data wins over allegations. Media Matters does not reflect the user experience on X.
On Monday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey told Elon Musk that his office is investigating Media Matters, the liberal organization pushing advertisers to leave the platform.
Attorney General Bailey jumped in and said, “My team is looking into this matter.”
My team is looking into this matter.
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) November 19, 2023
On Monday evening, the Office of the Attorney General in Texas initiated a formal investigation into Media Matters, focusing on potential fraudulent activities.
“Today I opened an investigation into Media Matters for potential fraudulent activity after X CEO Elon Musk accused the left-wing media watchdog group of manipulating data on the social media platform,” Paxton wrote on X.
Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed deep concern regarding the allegations that Media Matters, a “radical anti-free speech organization,” engaged in data manipulation. This conduct is being scrutinized under the Texas Business Organizations Code and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Paxton’s office has emphasized its commitment to vigorously enforce laws against nonprofit organizations that commit fraudulent acts within or affecting the state of Texas.
“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 Attorney General Paxton in a statement.
Elon Musk responded to this new development: “Fraud has both civil & criminal penalties.”
Fraud has both civil & criminal penalties pic.twitter.com/BdC5Zfr1XM
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 21, 2023