In the Shadow of Hate: Advertisers Abandon X after Musk’s Anti-Semitic Remarks


Elon Musk faced backlash and the departure of several advertisers after making anti-Semitic comments on his social media platform, X. The controversy began on November 18th when Musk threatened to sue Media Matters, a media watchdog group, and anyone who criticized X for promoting anti-Semitic content. Since Musk’s acquisition of the company in 2022, X (formerly known as Twitter) has been under scrutiny for the proliferation of racist and anti-Semitic content on its platform.

On Thursday, Musk endorsed a post on X that falsely claimed Jewish communities were spreading hatred among white people. The user’s post promoted the conspiracy theory that Jews were encouraging the arrival of people of color in Western nations, a theory that was cited by the man responsible for the deadly attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.

Musk’s response to the user, stating “You said the pure truth,” drew widespread criticism. Media Matters for America, a progressive non-governmental organization, published an article the following day highlighting major brands like Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity, and IBM having their ads displayed alongside “pro-Nazi” messages on X.

After the article was released, Musk took to X to label Media Matters as a “nefarious organization.” In response, a group of 164 Jewish leaders, including rabbis, artists, and academics from various ideological backgrounds, condemned the anti-Semitism on X and accused Musk of propagating it. They also called on major corporations to stop advertising on the platform and support the movement against anti-Semitism.

Following the outrage, IBM announced it would halt advertising on X while investigating the situation, and Lionsgate also declared that it would do the same. The European Commission (EC) expressed concern about potential misinformation and requested its services to suspend their advertising campaigns on X.

Musk, in a post on X, declared that “X Corp will be taking thermonuclear action against Media Matters and all those who conspired in this fraudulent attack on our company.” In response to the controversy, several companies, including Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Comcast, Lions Gate Entertainment, and Paramount Global, ceased their advertisements on X. Even Apple, the world’s largest company by market capitalization, announced it would follow suit.

Musk defended his platform and criticized Media Matters, accusing them of misrepresenting the true X experience and undermining free speech. He claimed that Media Matters had set up a separate account to misinform advertisers about the content on X. However, civil liberties organizations argue that since Musk’s purchase of X in October 2022 and the subsequent reduction of content moderation, hate speech and anti-Semitic content have increased, leading to the departure of advertisers.

The controversy extended to Musk’s role as CEO of Tesla, an electric vehicle manufacturer. Tesla has faced numerous legal proceedings alleging racism, as well as physical and sexual assault on employees.

It is worth noting that there has been a rise in anti-Semitism worldwide, including in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish anti-hate group, reported a spike of over 400% in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States following the outbreak of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas on October 7.

In conclusion, Elon Musk’s anti-Semitic comments on his social media platform, X, sparked significant backlash and led to the departure of several major advertisers. The controversy highlighted the ongoing issue of hate speech and the spread of anti-Semitism, both on X and in society at large. The reaction from Jewish leaders, civil liberties organizations, and government authorities reflects a collective effort to address and combat this alarming trend.