Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X, faces criticism after endorsing anon the social platform, which has led to a backlash from investors and prompted some companies to halt advertising on the platform.
Several advertisers, including Comcast, IBM, the European Commission, and the movie studio Lionsgate, have announced that they are pulling spending on X (formerly known as Twitter), citing reports of increasing hate speech and concerns that some ads are appearing next to Nazi-related content.
Speaking to CBS News, a Lionsgate spokesperson confirmed that the company “has suspended advertising on X because of Elon Musk’s recent antisemitic tweets.”
A Paramount Global spokesperson also confirmed that the parent company of CBS News has suspended advertising on X.
The White House has issued a statement condemning Musk’s comment as “unacceptable.”
“We condemn this abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” a White House spokesman said on Friday.
The backlash comes as X has already experienced adue to concerns about their brands appearing on the platform alongside rising hate speech. Musk had previously hired former NBC executive Linda Yaccarino to persuade major brands to return to the social media service, but this latest controversy presents additional challenges for the company.
Advertising on X declined by 60% in September, and revenue has also decreased, according to a report by Bloomberg News. In July, Musk stated that the company’s, while also acknowledging its substantial debt load.
In September, global web traffic on the site dropped by 14%, according to Simiilarweb. Overall traffic on X has fallen by nearly 7% in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the previous year, as social media usage has declined across the board, according to the market research firm.
Musk’s public support for antisemitic sentiments has also unsettled shareholders in Tesla, the electric car maker he founded. Tesla investors are “frustrated and dismayed” by this latest controversy, as stated by Wedbush analyst Dan Ives to CBS MoneyWatch.
“It was a dark day for Musk and Tesla with this X post heard around the world,” Ives said in an email. “[L]ongtime shareholders are asking what is next? We see no changes to Musk’s leadership, but this is a black eye that will not be forgotten by many.”
In an effort to mitigate the fallout from Musk’s comments, Yaccarino emphasized in a post on X that the company has “been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.”
However, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz expressed on Threads that Yaccarino should ask Musk to step down at X. He wrote, “She faces her biggest test yet as she decides whether to terminate her antisemitic CTO or risk losing even more advertisers,” referring to Musk’s role as the Chief Technology Officer at X.
Musk’s “actual truth”
Musk, the world’s richest person, sparked the backlash by expressing support on Thursday for an antisemitic post on the platform, describing it as “the actual truth.”
The original X user’s post claimed that Jews “have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”
Musk responded, “You have said the actual truth,” while also criticizing the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group that works to combat hate against Jewish people. Musk tweeted, “The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat.”
The original X post echoes antisemitic conspiracy theories that claim Jewish people want to bring in minorities to weaken and replace White majorities. Among those espousing that was, who raged against Jews online before killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
Simultaneously, growing tensions due to thehas led to conflicts on U.S. college campuses over alleged antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents. Data released by the Anti-Defamation League has found a across the U.S. since the conflict began.
Reports of ads next to Nazi content
According to a report by Media Matters, major advertisers including IBM, Apple, Oracle, and Comcast’s Xfinity have had their ads appear next to Nazi-themed content on X. In response to the report, IBM stated that it is suspending advertising on the platform.
Meanwhile, Musk lashed out at Media Matters on X, describing it as “an evil organization.” He made this comment on Thursday night.
The European Commission announced on Friday that it’s halting advertising on X as well as on all other social media networks, citing a recent “alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech,” although they stated that the decision wasn’t specifically about their presence on X.
“This is about advertisement campaigns — for these, we continuously assess and evaluate the media environment for our campaigns in view of our communication objectives,” a spokesman said.