Major US companies including Disney, Warner Bros and NBC parent company Comcast have pulled advertising from X (formerly Twitter) amid a row over Elon Musk’s alleged endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
The Tesla chief on Wednesday agreed with a post on X that falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people, saying the user who referenced the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory was speaking “the actual truth”.
That conspiracy theory holds that Jewish people and leftists are engineering the ethnic and cultural replacement of white populations with non-white immigrants that will lead to a “white genocide”.
Mr Musk’s apparent endorsement of the theory was met with a stinging rebuke from the White House, which accused him of “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate” that “runs against our core values as Americans”.
“It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie… one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said, referring to the 7 October attack by Hamas against Israel.
It comes a couple of weeks after Mr Musk was interviewed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at an AI event in the UK.
Several big US companies have pulled advertising from the X platform, apparently in response to the row.
In addition to Disney, Warner Bros Discovery and Comcast, Lions Gate Entertainment and Paramount Global said on Friday they also were pausing their ads.
It has also been reported that Apple, the world’s largest company by market value, was also pausing its ads.
IBM on Thursday halted its advertising on X after a report found its ads were placed next to content promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
Representatives for Mr Musk and X on Friday declined to comment on his post.
“When it comes to this platform – X has also 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,” X CEO Linda Yaccarino wrote on Thursday.
Mr Musk later posted on the platform: “Many of the largest advertisers are the greatest oppressors of your right to free speech.”
Elon Musk’s latest controversy
Elon Musk continues to court controversies of his own making. The latest being a public endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory popular among the far-right on his own platform.
When the billionaire responded to (and by association, magnified) the antisemitic post on X with the words “you have said the actual truth”, it was his most overt endorsement yet of anti-Jewish views.
Mr Musk’s many critics flooded Threads (Meta’s rival app) with outrage, and a punchy statement from the White House followed, condemning an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate”.
If the decision to swap out the iconic ‘tweet’ to an indistinct ‘x’ wasn’t bad enough for branding, now major companies including Apple and Disney are pulling ad spending on the platform, after concerns their promotional content was appearing next to a plethora of antisemitic views.
It marks a new corporate crisis for Mr Musk and his fairly new CEO Linda Yaccarino who have been attempting to turn the company’s fortunes around since the takeover in October 2022.
Many of the billionaire businessman’s critics questioned his abilities to navigate the complicated ethical questions involved in running a social media platform, and this latest scandal only serves as grist to their mill.