Your move, Linda. Elon Musk said “go fuck yourself” to advertisers who recently paused spending on X after he endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory on the platform.
Onstage at the DealBook conference, Andrew Ross Sorkin asked the X owner about these pauses in advertising. Musk replied, “Don’t advertise.”
“You don’t want them to advertise?” Sorkin said.
“If somebody’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself,” Musk said. “Go. Fuck. Yourself. Is that clear?”
He then waved to the audience and said, “Hey, Bob,” referring to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was also at the event.
Needless to say, it’s not an encouraging message for advertisers who are deciding whether or not to continue giving the platform their ad dollars. And it seems contrary to the strategy of bringing in an advertising industry bigwig like Linda Yaccarino as CEO.
“What this advertising boycott is going to do is kill the company,” Musk continued. “And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company, and we will document it in great detail.”
Throughout his tenure as X’s owner, Musk has sued or threatened to sue nonprofit organizations like Media Matters, the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation League, alleging that their reports are responsible for the increasingly tenuous relationship between X and advertisers. Companies that have paused or pulled advertising on X in the last few weeks include Apple, Comcast/NBCUniversal, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, IBM, Paramount Global, Lionsgate and the European Commission.
In the post that Musk described as “the actual truth,” an X user accused Jewish communities of spreading “dialectical hatred against whites.”
Musk did admit that his “actual truth” comment was “foolish.” He even apologized and said he is sorry onstage. But Musk is clearly not repentant about spreading violence-prone conspiracy theories. Just yesterday, he posted a meme endorsing Pizzagate, a debunked conspiracy theory that accused high-ranking Democrats of child sex-trafficking and inspired real-world violence when one Pizzagate adherent stormed a Washington, D.C. pizzeria with an AR-15. Musk has since deleted the post.
Per research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, X has failed to moderate hate speech on its platform that promotes antisemitic conspiracies, praises Hitler and dehumanizes Muslims and Palestinians. Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media watchdog, also published a recent report showing how ads from companies like Apple, IBM, Bravo, Oracle and Xfinity have appeared next to posts that praise Nazi ideology. In a statement, X said that the report “completely misrepresented the real user experience on X, in another attempt to undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers.” X has since filed suit against the media watchdog.