Elon Musk faces growing backlash over his support for anti-Semitic X-post

Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X, is facing a growing backlash after he called one antisemitic post on the social platform this week “the actual truth” that scared investors and caused some companies to stop advertising on the platform.

Two advertisers, IBM and the European Commission, said they are pulling money from X (formerly known as Twitter), citing reports of rising hate speech, including a report that some ads appear next to Nazi-related contents. The White House also issued a statement calling Musk’s comment “unacceptable.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this abhorrent promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hatred, which goes against our core values ​​as Americans,” a White House spokesman said Friday.

The setback comes as X has already suffered one loss of advertisers, with some wary of their brands appearing on the platform amid reports of increasing hate speech. Musk hired former NBC executive Linda Yaccarino to convince major brands to return to the social media service, a job that now appears to face further headwinds in the wake of Musk’s comment.

Advertising on X fell 60% in September and revenue is down, Bloomberg News reporter says Aisha Counts recently told CBS News. In July, Musk said the company’s advertising revenue had fallen by 50%at the same time as he notices his heavy debt burden.

In September, global web traffic to the site fell 14%, according to Simiilarweb. Overall traffic on X fell nearly 7% through the first nine months of 2023 compared to the year-ago period, the market research firm said in a recent reporterwhile noting that social media use is down across the board.

Musk’s move to support anti-Semitic ideas associated with white supremacy also unsettles shareholders in Tesla, the electric car maker he started. Tesla investors are “frustrated and dismayed” by this latest controversy, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told 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]longtime shareholders ask what’s next? We don’t see any changes in the Musk leadership, but this is a black eye that won’t be forgotten by many.”

Yaccarino tried to water down the fallout from Musk’s comments on Thursday, saying in a post on X that the company has “been extremely clear about our efforts to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination. There’s no place for that anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong . Full stop.”

Still, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz wrote on Threads that Yaccarino should ask Musk to step down at X. She “faces her biggest test yet as she decides whether to fire her anti-Semitic CTO or risk losing yet more advertisers,” he wrote, referring to Musk’s role as chief technology officer at X.

Musk’s “Actual Truth”

Musk, the world’s richest person, sparked the backlash by voicing support Thursday for an anti-Semitic 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 they want people to stop using against them.”

Musk responded, “You’ve stated the actual truth,” while also criticizing the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group that works to combat hatred of Jews. “The ADL unfairly attacks the majority of the West, despite the fact that the majority of the West supports the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot by their own principles criticize the minority groups that are their primary threat,” Musk tweeted.

The original X post reflects anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that claim Jews want to bring in minorities to weaken and replace white majorities. Among those who advocate it were convicted murderer Robert Bowerswho raged against Jews online before killing 11 people on Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

At the same time, tensions are growing due to Israel-Hamas war has led to conflict on American college campuses over alleged anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents. Data released by the ADL has found one significant increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States since the conflict began.

Report ads next to Nazi content

Major advertisers, including IBM, Apple, Oracle and Comcast’s Xfinity, have had their ads appear alongside Nazi-themed content on X, Media Matters said in a report this week. In response to the report, IBM said it is suspending advertising on the platform.

Musk, meanwhile, lashed out at Media Matters on X. “Media Matters is an evil organization,” he wrote Thursday night.

The European Commission said on Friday it was halting advertising on X as well as all other social media, pointing to a recent “alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech”, although it said the decision was not specifically about their presence on X.

“This is about advertising campaigns – for these we continually assess and evaluate the media environment for our campaigns in light of our communications objectives,” a spokesperson said.

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