After Musk’s anti-Semitic comments, a number of advertisers have fled from his social media platform, X. The controversy began on November 18th when Elon Musk threatened to sue Media Matters, a media watchdog group, and anyone who criticized his platform for promoting anti-Semitic content. Since Musk’s acquisition of the company in 2022, X (formerly known as Twitter) has faced scrutiny due to the proliferation of racist and anti-Semitic content on the site.
The situation escalated when Musk endorsed a post on X that made false claims about the Jewish community spreading hatred among white people. The user had posted a message stating that “the Jewish communities have promoted exactly the kind of racial animus people should stop using against them,” and Musk replied, “You said the pure truth.”
The post also alluded to a conspiracy theory that suggests Jews encouraged the arrival of people of color in Western nations, a theory that was backed by the perpetrator of the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which resulted in the death of 11 people. Musk’s endorsement of such content raised significant concerns.
A few days later, an article published by the progressive non-governmental organization Media Matters for America revealed that major brands like Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity, and IBM had their ads shown alongside “pro-Nazi” messages on X. This prompted a strong response from the public, and Musk labeled Media Matters as “a nefarious organization” in a message on his social network.
As the controversy grew, 164 Jewish “leaders,” including rabbis, artists, and academics from various ideologies, released a statement condemning the anti-Semitism on X. They accused Musk of promoting it and called for large corporations to join forces in funding the movement against such hate speech. IBM promptly announced that it would halt advertising while investigating the issue, and Lionsgate also decided to suspend their ads on X.
In light of the escalating situation, the European Commission (EC) expressed concern about misinformation and requested that its services suspend their advertising campaigns on X. Musk responded by stating that “X Corp will be taking thermonuclear action against Media Matters and all those who conspired in this fraudulent attack on our company.”
The repercussions for X and Musk continued to grow as more companies joined the boycott. Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Comcast, Lionsgate Entertainment, and Paramount Global were among the companies that ceased their advertisements on the platform. Even Apple, the largest company in the world by market capitalization, pledged to follow suit.
Musk defended his platform, claiming that Media Matters had misrepresented the real X experience and accused them of attempting to undermine free speech and mislead advertisers. He alleged that Media Matters had set up a separate account to falsely inform advertisers about their tweets.
Critics argue that since Musk took over X in 2022 and reduced content moderation, there has been an increase in hate speech, leading to the exodus of advertisers. Civil liberties organizations have expressed concern about this trend.
The controversy has not been limited to X alone. Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, an electric vehicle manufacturer, has faced legal proceedings accusing the company of racism, as well as unprovoked physical and sexual assault on employees.
The rise of anti-Semitism globally, including in the United States, has alarmed many. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there has been a surge of over 400% in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States after the outbreak of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas in October.
In conclusion, Elon Musk’s anti-Semitic comments have had significant consequences for X, with numerous advertisers choosing to distance themselves from the platform. The controversy has raised concerns about hate speech and the responsibility of social media companies to moderate their content. It has also highlighted the growing issue of anti-Semitism globally.