A media watchdog has branded Elon Musk a “bully” after he vowed to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against them in a row over anti-Semitism on the platform.
Watchdog group Media Matters for America said earlier this week that it found corporate ads for IBM, Apple, Oracle and Comcast's Xfinity were being placed alongside anti-Semitic content on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The analysis prompted a number of major companies – including Disney, Apple and IBM – to suspend their ads on the platform.
Responding Saturday to the walkout of advertisers on the platform, Musk wrote a post in which he said, “Many of the biggest advertisers are the biggest oppressors of your right to free speech.”
The Tesla founder added in a second post: “Second court opens Monday, X Corp will file a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and all those complicit in this fraudulent attack on our company.”
Media Matters responded to Musk's threat on Saturday, saying: “Far from the champion of free speech he claims to be, Musk is a bully who threatens baseless lawsuits in an attempt to silence reports he has confirmed are accurate.
“Musk admitted that the ads in question ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. If he sues us, we will win.”
In one example, a post claiming that Hitler and the Nazis represented a “spiritual awakening” appeared directly above an advertisement for Apple Mac computers.
Musk was also accused of fueling anti-Semitism this week for his response to a social media user who appeared to promote the “great replacement” conspiracy theory on X.
User X claimed that Jewish communities are “pushing the exact kind of anti-white hate speech they claim they want people to stop using against them.” That theory was among the hateful ideas cited by the gunman who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history.
Musk responded to the post, writing on his X platform: “You spoke the real truth.”
On Thursday, IBM told the Financial Times had “suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this completely unacceptable situation.”
An Apple source told Axios that the company did the same, and a Lions Gate Entertainment representative confirmed that it was also involved in the exit. Disney has also halted spending on X, The New York Times References.
In one example of Media Matter's research, a post claiming that Hitler and the Nazis represented a “spiritual awakening” appeared directly above an ad for Apple Mac computers.
In September, Musk also threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights advocacy group that monitors anti-Semitism and forms of extremism, accusing the watchdog of “trying to kill this platform” with accusations of anti-Semitism.
“To be very clear, I am for free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind,” he said added.
The White House also stood down, accusing Musk of spreading “despicable promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hatred.”
“It is unacceptable to repeat at any time the heinous lie behind the deadliest act of anti-Semitism in American history, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” the White House said in a statement.