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Media companies pull ads from X, formerly Twitter, over Elon Musk post

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018.
Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018. (Photo by Daniel Oberhaus via Flickr, Graphic by The Desk)

Several traditional media companies have suspended their advertising on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, after majority owner Elon Musk appeared to endorse an anti-Semitic post this week.

On Friday, representatives from Warner Bros Discovery (WBD), Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Global, the Walt Disney Company and Apple affirmed they were pausing their online advertising campaigns on X/Twitter after Musk agreed with a user who claimed Jewish communities were “pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.”

“You have said the actual truth,” Musk said in response. His comment was viewed nearly 7 million times, according to X/Twitter’s own public metric, which some have called into question.

Earlier this week, Musk affirmed his company would “do whatever it takes to support your right to free speech” after attorneys retained by X/Twitter advocated in defense of an Illinois college student who was suspended by their university over comments made on the social media website.

Later, Musk wrote that anyone advocating for “genocide” would be permanently suspended from X/Twitter, including those who support “decolonization” and who used the phrase “from the river to the sea” in certain contexts.

“Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension,” Musk wrote.

By then, though, the damage had been done. Musk’s initial response was viewed as bigoted and anti-Semitic by various hate groups, including the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, who wrote that “at a time when antisemitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one’s influence to validate and promote anti-Semitic theories.”

On Friday, tech and media reporters began reaching out to various known advertisers, some of which affirmed they were walking back their spending on X/Twitter over Musk’s comments.

The New York Times — which has long been a target of Musk’s antics on X/Twitter — was the first to report that Disney had paused its spending on the platform, presumably after its reporters contacted them about his comments. Separately, a reporter from financial news outlet Axois confirmed Apple would suspend its advertising on X/Twitter as well.

CNBC later affirmed other media companies were pausing their ad campaigns on X/Twitter, to include the network’s parent company, Comcast. Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X/Twitter, worked for Comcast’s NBC Universal in an executive advertising role before moving over to the social platform earlier this year.

On Friday, Yaccarino issued her own statement affirming X/Twitter’s position to combat anti-Semitism on its platform.

“X’s point of view has always been very clear that discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board — I think that’s something we can all agree on,” Yaccarino wrote. “When it comes to this platform, X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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