Apple, Disney, and IBM to pause ads on X after antisemitic Elon Musk tweet

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  • Elon Musk, who regularly engages with antisemitic users on X, agreed with a post that said Jewish people hold a “dialectical hatred” of white people. 
  • The White House called Musk’s reply an “unacceptable” act that endangers Jewish communities. 
  • Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, attempted to do damage control as Paramount and Warner Bros among others also pulled ads. 
  • Meanwhile, several Tesla Inc. shareholders also spoke out against Musk, with some saying he should be suspended from his post. 
  • The European Commission advised staff to stop advertising on X due to “an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech,” it said in a statement. 

Outcry over unchecked antisemitic content and commentary on social media site X, some of it endorsed by the platform’s owner Elon Musk, reached a tipping point on Friday, with large advertisers such as Apple Inc. pulling ads and the White House chastising the billionaire.

Musk, who regularly engages with antisemitic users on X, agreed with a post that said Jewish people hold a “dialectical hatred” of white people. “You have said the actual truth,” Musk responded.  The White House called Musk’s reply an “unacceptable” act that endangers Jewish communities.

Meanwhile, several Tesla Inc. shareholders also spoke out against Musk, who is the chief executive officer of the electric car maker, with some saying he should be suspended from his post.

Americans have “an obligation to speak out against anyone who attacks the dignity of their fellow Americans and compromises the safety of our communities,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement on Friday. Musk’s companies, including Space Exploration Technologies Corp., hold several government contracts.

Musk’s remarks added to backlash sparked by a report released Thursday from Media Matters showing ads for Apple, International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp.’s Xfinity brand and the Bravo television network running on X next to pro-Nazi content. IBM said it will stop advertising on X until the situation is resolved.

The European Commission and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. also said they would pull ads on X. Walt Disney Co. said it was pausing spending on X, Paramount Global announced it was suspending all advertising, while CNBC reported Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. has halted its ad campaigns on the platform.

Apple, one of the biggest advertisers on X, said it’s taking a pause in showing ads on the site. The two companies already had a precarious relationship.

After Musk took over the social network last year – unleashing a torrent of job cuts and policy changes – Apple also suspended advertising for a while. Musk escalated tensions by implying that he might break Apple’s App Store rules in order to stop paying fees.

But he and Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook met at the iPhone maker’s headquarters late last year and patched up the relationship. Musk said in December that Apple had “fully resumed” advertising on what was then called Twitter.

Cook has previously called X an “important property” but said he disagrees with the antisemitic discourse that has allegedly increased since Musk took over. He has said that the Cupertino, California-based company “constantly” asks itself if it should continue advertising. Axios earlier on Friday reported that Apple is pausing ads on X.

Last year, the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy organization, called on Musk to apologize after he deleted a controversial tweet that made a satirical comparison between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Adolf Hitler.

Musk has accused the ADL, a Jewish civil rights group, of undermining X’s advertising revenue by highlighting a rise in extremist content that has caused advertisers to flee. Ad sales on X are down 60% “primarily due to pressure on advertisers” mounted by the ADL, Musk said in September, after the organization said reports of harassment and extremist content spiked since he took over the company.

The European Commission advised staff to stop advertising on X due to “an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech,” it said in a statement on Friday, which didn’t specifically cite Musk’s posts. The move was initially reported by Politico.

Comcast is looking into the matter, a spokesperson said. Apple and Oracle didn’t respond to requests for comment. IBM’s decision was reported earlier by the Financial Times. X did a sweep on the accounts that Media Matters found associated with the offensive content and they will no longer be monetizable, Benarroch, said. The specific posts will be labeled “Sensitive Media.”

The X system is not intentionally placing a brand actively next to this type of content, nor is a brand actively trying to support this type of content with an ad placement, Benarroch said.

Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, also head of project-management software maker Asana Inc., said Yaccarino should ask Musk, who owns X and serves as the company’s chief technology officer, to resign.

 

(With inputs from agencies)

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