Brand value of X is exploding

The irony for me is that if true, shouldn’t that be protected “free speech” regardless per Musk? If he can call people a pedo(phile) and claim Paul Pelosi was involved in a gay lover dispute, why can’t Media Matters claim whatever they like?

Surely this is the end result of unfettered free speech.

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Free speech is not a free for all, there are laws about defamation, slander, libel, and other offensive forms of speech.

The Captain

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Oh I am well aware of the difference.

For me, I see no difference in maliciously calling someone a pedo, maliciously claiming that someone was involved in a gay lover fight, or maliciously posting a news article that is misleading.

Goose and gander. If you are going to allow people to post one malicious and manufactured story (and in many cases amplify it), then you can hardly cry foul when others do it.

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For those who want to read the actual complaint, it is here:

It’s pretty weak, IMHO - but I don’t think it’s intended to actually succeed.

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Thanks for the link, @albaby1 .

Can you describe, in layman terms, how it’s pretty weak?

The doc seems to lay out specifically what Media Matters did, and says X has the evidence to prove it.

Thanks for helping me better understand this.
:face_with_monocle:
ralph

Fox Noise has been making things up to fit their agenda for years. As DesertDave used to remind us, Fox has been the most popular cable news network for years.

Steve

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Sure!

The complaint lays out X’s version of the facts, but doesn’t make any kind of case that what Media Matters reported was false - which is the heart of business disparagement claims. MM didn’t make any assertions that its findings were representative of the average user experience, or that the screenshots were from a randomly selected user, or anything of the sort.

The complaint tries to allege that MM has committed some sort of misrepresentation by omission - that the article somehow misleadingly led advertisers to believe that these results were representative of a typical user experience, rather than the result of MM actually investigating this. Not only does that fail to plead an essential element of the claims (false information, not misleading but true information), I also think that’s incredibly weak tea.

Any advertiser would know that seeing pro-Natzi or pro-Hitler content isn’t the typical user experience. It’s incredibly unlikely that any of them didn’t realize that the screenshots were the results of MM testing whether X’s filters actually kept brands from appearing next to toxic content, not just a random user experience. TBH, that’s really the most obvious way an outside party would test whether X’s protocols were working to shield brands from toxic content - set up an account that has a lot of toxic content in the feed, and see whether any major brands show up.

To be fair, the lawyers probably had to whip this up in the course of a few days, so we’ll probably see a much better amended complaint relatively soon (assuming that X is actually serious about this). But their case seems pretty weak.

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MM’s countersuit could get expensive–for X.

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In this case public opinion is that anti-semitism is bad. I’ll go on record that is a good thing, and it isn’t a tough call.

Musk’s problem is that he isn’t even remotely as smart as he thinks he is. A year ago in my BMB thread I said advertisers don’t want their name, brand, and image associated with offensive material. That is not a hard concept.

From his and his CEO’s comments, Musk thinks he’s running a public service and advertisers owe him the money to keep his enterprise running.

Nope. He’s running a business that sells ad space. His customers are the advertisers and those are the people he needs to satisfy. If he hasn’t figured it out at this point he probably won’t.

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I’m not sure what the countersuit would be. Typically, you can’t sue someone for suing you. They could always ask for attorney’s fees and costs, I guess.

Their most likely response is a pretty short and simple motion to dismiss, noting that X’s complaint fails to allege the basic elements of the claims being asserted. An essential element of a business disparagement claim is a false statement - not a misleading one. An essential element of tortious interference is that the counterparty to the contract breached the contract - which the complaint doesn’t allege any of the advertisers did.

Too late. He should have known AT THE BEGINNING of his initial offer to buy Twitter that THAT WAS HOW THINGS WORKED. Now he is whining when he can’t get his way with other people’s money and products. Sound familiar?

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Quite the contrary, he told them he will not be blackmailed, go away!

The Captain

Given performance to date, blackmail isn’t necessary. Bankruptcy, however…

I look forward to the amended, clarified complaint.

Back in the spring, Musk said he’s put together a legal team specifically to go after entities who defame him, Tesla, X, etc.
I assume he’s serious.

The complaint/suit alleges that MM has habitually targeted Twitter, and now X with lies.

From the complaint:
{. *X and its

predecessor Twitter have long been the target of Media Matters. In just the last year, Media Matters

has published a series of articles threatening X’s relationships with massive multinational
advertisers and global publishers, including Amazon, eBay, Major League Baseball, New York
Times Co., Samsung, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Office Depot, Nokia,
Dish, Bayer, Tyson Foods, Honeywell, Discovery, FanDuel, Thermo Fisher, National Women’s
Soccer League, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Atlanta Falcons, Manchester City, DraftKings,
FanDuel, T-Mobile, and The Athletic.1
5. This November alone Media Matters released over twenty articles (and counting)
disparaging both X Corp. and Elon Musk—a blatant smear campaign.
6. For the last several years, Media Matters has falsely portrayed Twitter, now X, as a
risky, unsafe platform for advertisers*. }

If Musk antidefamation team knows MM is habitually doing this, then it’s possible they have been waiting, watching for just such a tactic as this by MM.

. :face_with_monocle:
ralph

I mean - maybe? Again, seems kind of weak. Part of running a business is that people are allowed to publish articles critical of your business without that being defamatory. Part of running a social media business is that people will publish articles critical of how well your business keeps toxic content off the platform.

If they are publishing false statements of fact, you might have a claim against them. If they are publishing true statements that you feel are unfair, unrepresentative, disparaging, target your company, a “smear” campaign, falsely “portraying” Twitter as a risky unsafe platform for advertisers, or are threatening your relationship with massive multinational advertisers…well, you’re just out of luck.

No one has an obligation to refrain from publishing things just because they’re bad for your brand image. Lots of people deliberately publish things in order to hurt the brand image of companies they think are doing bad things - even when the companies don’t think they’re doing bad things. For example, if there’s a news outlet or a reporter who thinks a particular investment banks is reprehensible, and they just keep on publishing negative stuff about that investment bank and the horrible things they do, over and over and over again - even calling them a vampire squid - that bank just has to suck it up. That’s part of the point of free speech. If you think a company is a bad company doing bad things, you’re allowed to shout that into the world in order to try to change that company and get them to stop doing those bad things: whether that company is Exxon/Mobil, RJ Reynolds, Goldman Sachs, Dupont Chemical, Monsanto,…or Twitter.

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I agree with all these comments.

This suit is NOT about “critical of x”.

It’s alleging that MM CREATED fake /false images, used the viewer algorithm to then create fake “numbers of views”, then published a “report” to SCARE big advertisers into knee jerk belief that their ads were seen by average viewers alongside “objectionable content”.

The suit says
{ * Media Matters executed this plot in multiple steps, as X’s internal investigations
have revealed
. *. }

Does X have actual proof that MM faked the images, and proof that MM then faked the viewer numbers?

The suit goes on with general descriptions of the steps:
{ * First, Media Matters accessed accounts that had been active for at least 30 days,
bypassing X’s ad filter for new users. Media Matters then exclusively followed a small subset of
users consisting entirely of accounts in one of two categories: those known to produce extreme,
fringe content, and accounts owned by X’s big-name advertisers. The end result was a feed
precision-designed by Media Matters for a single purpose: to produce side-by-side ad/content
placements that it could screenshot in an effort to alienate advertisers.
9. But this activity still was not enough to create the pairings of advertisements and
content that Media Matters aimed to produce.
10. Media Matters therefore resorted to endlessly scrolling and refreshing its
unrepresentative, hand-selected feed, generating between 13 and 15 times more advertisements
per hour than viewed by the average X user repeating this inauthentic activity until it finally
received pages containing the result it wanted: controversial content next to X’s largest advertisers’
paid posts. *}

The suit then mentions the omission you mentioned:
{ *. Media Matters omitted mentioning any of this in a report published on November
16, 2023 that displayed instances Media Matters “found” on X of advertisers’ paid posts featured
next to Neo-Natzi and white-nationalist content. Nor did Media Matters otherwise provide any

context regarding the forced, inauthentic nature and extraordinary rarity of these pairings. *}

It’ll be interesting to see if a court finds X’s arguments convincing.

As you say, it does not seem clear cut, black and white.
I, too, don’t see this being resolved “soon”.
Thanks for your explanations and thoughts.

:face_with_monocle:
ralph

I think you’re misreading the complaint.

MM did the following in order to test whether Twitter’s algorithms really did keep major brands away from toxic content:

  1. They took an account and had it follow/like a ton of accounts that spew toxic content, so that their account’s feed would have that content in it.
  2. They then refreshed that account a number of times in quick succession in order to cycle through the various ads that would be placed alongside the content in the feed.
  3. They screenshotted the ad/content combos when major brands were advertised alongside the toxic content.

They didn’t “fake” images, they didn’t create “fake numbers of views,” and they didn’t publish a “report.” To be honest, they did what pretty much any outside user would do if they wanted to see whether Twitter really did block major brands from hate speech - create a situation where you could see a whole lot of ad placements next to hate speech quickly, and see whether the algos worked or not.

It’s unlikely beyond belief that advertisers were scared into believing that an average viewer runs into Hitler memes or anti-semitic screeds. Rather, what MM showed is that if toxic content ends up in someone’s feed, Twitter’s security algos aren’t effective at keeping the major brands’ ads away from it. That’s not going to happen to the average user, but that’s not the point. Twitter’s tech was supposed to keep it from happening altogether, which is part of the pitch that Musk made to the brands when he announced that Twitter was going to stop taking the toxic content off the site - that they had the ability to segregate the brands from the toxic content, rather than having to remove the toxic content.

Which is why the complaint is so weak. MM didn’t say that average viewers would see toxic content (and thus possibly a major brand-toxic content combo). They just said that Twitter’s algos placed major brand ads next to toxic content, contrary to Yaccarino’s assertions.

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Thats certainly possible. And why I asked for your comments on it. :slightly_smiling_face:
Thanks
ralph

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You need to lookup the definition of blackmail. It is NOT what any of the potential advertisers are doing.

JimA

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Blackmail: Elon we know you are selling children to billionaires for young body parts, and if you don’t give us money we will report you.

Extortion: Ya got a nice little business. It’d be a shame if somethin’ was to happen to it.

Unforced error: I did something stupid, hateful, or unpopular that upset my customers, and now they do not want to do business with me.

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