Apple, Disney pause ads on X, White House reacts after
The White House on Friday accused Elon Musk of repeating a "hideous" antisemitic lie on his social media site X. "It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust," White House spokesman Andrew Bates said on Friday, in response to a Musk post.
Outcry over unchecked antisemitic content and commentary on X, some of it endorsed by the platform's owner Musk, reached a tipping point on Friday, with large advertisers such as Apple Inc. pulling ads and the White House chastising the billionaire.
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 responded.
Meanwhile, several Tesla Inc. 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,” Bates said in a statement on Friday. Musk's companies, including Space Exploration Technologies Corp., hold several government contracts.
Musk's remarks added to backlash sparked by a report released Thursday from Media Matters showing ads for Apple, International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp.'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 Corp. also said they would pull ads on X.
Apple, one of the biggest advertisers on X, said it's taking a pause in showing ads on the site. The two companies already had a precarious relationship.
After Musk took over the social network last year — unleashing a torrent of job cuts and policy changes — Apple also suspended advertising for a while. Musk escalated tensions by implying that he might break Apple's App Store rules in order to stop paying fees.
But he and Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook met at the iPhone maker's headquarters late last year and patched up the relationship. Musk said in December that Apple had “fully resumed” advertising on what was then called Twitter.
Cook has previously called X an “important property” but said he disagrees with the antisemitic discourse that has allegedly increased since Musk took over. He has said that the Cupertino, California-based company “constantly” asks itself if it should continue advertising.
Axios earlier on Friday reported that Apple is pausing ads on X.
“X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination,” Chief Executive Officer 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 remarks 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 October 7 attack by Hamas compared to the previous week.
Last year, the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy organisation, called on Musk to apologise after he deleted a controversial tweet that made a satirical comparison between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Adolf Hitler.
Musk has accused the ADL, 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 Minster Benjamin Netanyahu at Tesla's offices in Fremont, California, 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.
(With inputs from Bloomberg)