Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X (formerly Twitter), has delivered a stark message to advertisers boycotting the platform after he commented favorably on an antisemitic post: “Go f— yourself!”
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In a tricky exchange with journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin at the 'New York Times' DealBook Summit,' on Nov. 30, Musk dropped several f-bombs against companies who have stopped advertising on the social media platform.
‘If somebody’s going to try and blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money — go f— yourself,” he said, specifically calling out Walt Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger, who earlier in the DealBook Summit had said associating with Musk and X was “not necessarily a positive” for Disney.
“What this advertising boycott is going to do is it’s going to kill the company,” said Musk, with the warning: “The whole world will know that advertisers killed the company, and we will document it in great detail.”
What caused the advertising boycott?
Musk has faced a torrent of criticism after re-sharing an X post in November that claims Jewish people are stoking hatred against white people. Musk also added the comment: “You have said the actual truth.”
In response, many major U.S. companies — including Apple (AAPL), Coca-Cola (KO), Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) and NBCUniversal parent Comcast (CMCSA) and many more — suspended their ads on X.
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Even the White House weighed in on Musk’s post, stating: “We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms.”
Musk did apologize at the DealBook Summit, describing his actions as “foolish” and admitting he had “handed a loaded gun” to both detractors and antisemitic people by sharing the controversial post with his 165 million followers.
But that did not stop the Tesla (TSLA) CEO from launching a profanity-laced tirade against the advertisers that have left the social media platform.
And when Sorkin presented the idea that Musk may actually be the one who will cause the downfall of X, and that advertisers are leaving the platform because they “didn’t feel comfortable” being associated with his “inappropriate” posts, Musk simply replied: “Let’s see how Earth responds to that.”
A painful price to pay
The advertising freezes on X could cost the company as much as $75 million in advertising revenue by the end of the year, according to internal documents viewed by The New York Times.
U.S. advertising on the platform is down nearly 60% this year — a dramatic decline that chief executive Linda Yaccarino is trying to turn around.
In an X post after Musk’s explosive interview on Wednesday, Yaccarino wrote: “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.”
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