Elon Musk offered a profanity-filled statement to the advertisers leaving X (formerly Twitter) because of the platform’s perceived antisemitism.
The New York Times ’ DealBook 2023 summit invited Musk to the stage for an interview on Wednesday (Nov. 29), where he took the chance to offer a brief apology for his 15 November post that endorsed what appeared to be an antisemitic post on X. He admitted that this was arguably the worst post in his history on the site, and reflected it was one of many “foolish” tweets.
Shortly after, the 52-year-old billionaire addressed advertisers directly, telling them, “Don’t advertize”.
“If someone’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go f*** yourself,” he continued.
Musk said “f*** you” numerous times, at one point adding the words “hey, Bob,” an assumed reference to Robert Iger, the chief executive of The Walt Disney Company, one of many companies to remove ads on X.
The owner of X also took aim at OpenAI, saying he suspected the AI firm behind ChatGPT had found “something dangerous”.
X CEO Linda Yaccarino reposted a video of Musk’s controversial interview, describing it as a “wide-ranging and candid interview”
“He also offered an apology, an explanation, and an explicit point of view about our position,” she continued. “X is enabling an information independence that’s uncomfortable for some people. We’re a platform that allows people to make their own decisions.
“And here’s my perspective when it comes to advertising: X is standing at a unique and amazing intersection of Free Speech and Main Street — and the X community is powerful and is here to welcome you. To our partners who believe in our meaningful work — Thank You.”
— Andrew Ross Sorkin (@andrewrsorkin) November 29, 2023
What was the antisemitic tweet which sparked the row?
As well as Disney, Apple, IBM and Coca-Cola are among those who have removed paid ads from X. The rising exodus is estimated to result in a potential $75m in revenue losses, according to the New York Times.
The mass departure from the platform began after non-profit Media Matters published a report that showed advertisements from major companies alongside pro-Nazi posts, sparking a lawsuit by X. It escalated still further after Musk publicly posted on the platform, apparently agreeing and endorsing an antisemitic tweet that accused Jewish people of “hatred against whites”. The world’s richest man, who is also CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has vehemently refuted all allegations of anti-semitism leveled at him personally.
During the DealBook interview, Musk acknowledged that the “advertising boycott..is going to kill the company”, stating that “the whole world will know that those advertizers killed the company”.