Backlash spreads over Musk’s endorsement of antisemitic post
Fallout from an Elon Musk post endorsing antisemitic views continues to spread, prompting a rebuke from the White House and criticism from Tesla investors as advertisers flee his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Musk, who regularly engages with antisemitic users on X, agreed with a post that said Jewish people hold a “dialectical hatred” of white people. “You have said the actual truth,” Musk said.
The White House called Musk’s response an “unacceptable” act that endangers Jewish communities. Meanwhile, several Tesla shareholders also spoke out against Musk, who is the chief executive officer of the electric car maker, with some saying he should be suspended from his post.
Americans have “an obligation to speak out against anyone who attacks the dignity of their fellow Americans and compromises the safety of our communities,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement on Friday. Musk’s companies hold several government contracts.
Musk’s remarks add to backlash sparked by a report from Media Matters released Thursday showing ads for IBM, Apple, Oracle, Comcast’s Xfinity brand and the Bravo television network running on X next to pro-Nazi content. IBM said it will stop advertising on X until the situation is resolved. The European Commission and Lions Gate Entertainment also said they would pull ads on X. Apple, one of the biggest advertisers on X, is also pausing advertising on the platform, Axios reported Friday.
“X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination,” X Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino said on the platform Thursday. “There’s no place for it anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.”
Musk didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The latest comments from Musk, who is the world’s richest person, come at a time of rising antisemitism and Islamophobia around the world amid the Israel-Hamas war. The Anti-Defamation League found antisemitism on X increased by more than 900% in the week following the initial Oct. 7 attack by Hamas compared with the previous week.
Following fellow right-winger RFK Jr., Elon Musk blames the Jews, in the form of the Anti-Defamation League, for his self-inflicted disaster at X (formerly Twitter).
Last year, the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy organization, called on Musk to apologize after he deleted a controversial tweet that made a satirical comparison between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Adolf Hitler.
“I’ve just never had this with any company I’ve ever invested in, ever in my life, where the CEO of the company himself does so many detrimental things,” Ross Gerber, co-founder and CEO of wealth management firm Gerber Kawasaki Inc., said on CNBC on Thursday. “It’s destroying the brand.”
Musk has accused the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, of undermining X’s advertising revenue by highlighting a rise in extremist content that has caused advertisers to flee. Ad sales on X are down 60% “primarily due to pressure on advertisers” mounted by the ADL, Musk said in September, after the organization said reports of harassment and extremist content spiked since he took over the company.
In September, Musk met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tesla’s offices in Fremont for a broadcast discussion and said, “obviously I’m against antisemitism. I’m against anti-anything that promotes hate and conflict.”
At the end of the long and wide-ranging conversation, Musk shared that he had attended a Jewish school while growing up in South Africa and could even sing “a great ‘Hava Nagila,’ ” a Jewish folk song.
Since acquiring Twitter, now X, nearly a year ago, Elon Musk’s changes to the platform have helped perpetuate misinformation, mistrust and hate.
Kristin Hull, founder and CEO of Nia Impact Capital, said she was “appalled” by Musk’s new posts. The social-impact fund owned about $282,200 of Tesla stock as of midyear and has waged pressure campaigns against the company for years, including via shareholder resolutions.
“The impact of erratic, racist, and antisemitic speech from a CEO directly affects Tesla’s brand and bottom line in significant ways,” Hull wrote in an email Thursday. She said an appropriate response to Musk’s actions may include censure by Tesla’s board, demotion, reassignment, suspension or removal.
The European Commission advised staff to stop advertising on X due to “an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech,” it said in a statement Friday, which didn’t specifically cite Musk’s posts. The move was initially reported by Politico.
“The European Commission has only advertised about $5,000 so far this year, but is still organically posting across all its X handles,” Joe Benarroch, head of business operations for X, said in a message to Bloomberg.
Comcast is looking into the matter, a spokesperson said. Apple and Oracle didn’t respond to requests for comment. IBM’s decision was reported earlier by the Financial Times.
Media Matters released a report Thursday showing ads for IBM, Apple Inc., Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp.’s Xfinity brand, and the Bravo television network, which is owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, running on X next to pro-Nazi posts.
Right after Elon Musk took control of Twitter, hateful content rose as moderation was loosened, according to a USC computer scientist and his team.
X did a sweep on the accounts that Media Matters found associated with the offensive content and they will no longer be monetizable, said Joe Benarroch, head of business operations at the company, in a statement. The specific posts will be labeled “Sensitive Media.”
The X system is not intentionally placing a brand actively next to this type of content, nor is a brand actively trying to support this type of content with an ad placement, Benarroch said.
Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, also head of project management software maker Asana, said Yaccarino should ask Musk, who serves as the company’s chief technology officer, to resign.
“Yaccarino faces her biggest test yet as she decides whether to terminate her antisemitic CTO or risk losing even more advertisers,” he wrote on Threads, another social media site. “How will she handle this tricky, yet morally unambiguous situation?”