Elon Musk's X antisemitism row explained: Why are advertisers leaving the platform?

Elon Musk's X antisemitism row explained: Why are advertisers leaving the platform?

Elon Musk has unleashed a fiery response after dozens of advertisers left the platform recently.

The Tesla-owning billionaire, who bought the struggling Twitter platform in 2022, told advertisers to "Go f*** yourself". This followed an exodus of major financial backers.

"What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it. And what I see all over the place is people who care about looking good while doing evil. F*** them," he said during an interview at the New York Times DealBook Summit.

Mr Musk also suggested that advertisers would "kill the company" while implying that "the world" would be the judge of X's demise.

While the latest crisis appears to be linked to a tweet that Mr Musk shared, which supported an antisemitic conspiracy theory, the platform has long been mired in controversy.

Here's what's been going on.

Why are advertisers leaving X?

Earlier this month, several advertisers confirmed that they were pulling ads from X. Some big business names were among them, including Disney, IBM, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sony, Comcast, Lionsgate, and NBCUniversal.

Previously, Mr Musk had commented, “You have said the actual truth” to a post that suggested Jewish people harboured a "hatred against whites".

The White House called Mr Musk out for the social media message, deeming his comment an "abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate".

Days later, representatives for X launched a lawsuit against Media Matters after it released a report which said X adverts were appearing alongside pro-Nazi material.

In the lawsuit, X claimed that Media Matters had actually manipulated the platform's algorithms to make it look like paid posts were appearing next to racist content.

The damage, however, has already been done. Just one year after Mr Musk's Twitter takeover, his critics allege that the billionaire has driven countless users and advertisers away from the platform.

According to CNN, the EU has also reportedly pulled advertising from the platform following an 'alarming increase' in hate speech and disinformation.

Reports suggest that Mr Musk could be looking at losing around $75 million (£59m) in ad revenue for X as a result.

What has Elon Musk said?

Mr Musk's tweet was, at the time of writing, still available to view online. However, he also appears to have performed a U-turn on what he wrote.

At the DealBook Summit, he admitted that his post may have been "foolish", telling the host: “I should have not replied to that particular person… I essentially handed a loaded gun to those who hate me."

Earlier this week, Mr Musk also travelled to Israel and toured the site of the Hamas assault. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Following this, Mr Musk was quoted as saying: "Those who are intent to murder must be neutralised; then the propaganda must stop that is training people to be murderers in the future; and then making Gaza prosperous. If that happens, I think it’ll be a good future…. I’d love to help."

Despite apologising for his recent tweet, he didn't seem as sorry about the advertisers boycotting his platform.

"I don't want them to advertise," he also added at this week's DealBook Summit.

Elon Musk (right) met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel this week (Israel GPO)
Elon Musk (right) met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel this week (Israel GPO)

What changes has Elon Musk brought to X since buying it?

Aside from rebranding the platform from Twitter to X, Mr Musk has also implemented many other changes across the social media site.

He became Twitter's CEO in October 2022 and has only recently handed over the reins to Linda Yaccarino.

However, he's changed the Twitter logo at the helm of the social media platform and sacked many of the platform's former c-suite and engineers.

Mr Musk also transformed the platform's verification process, meaning almost anyone could actually pay to achieve blue tick status.

Appearing to champion 'free speech,' the tech mogul also reinstated some previously banned profiles, including the former US president Donald Trump — who had been permanently suspended "due to the risk of further incitement of violence".

Earlier in 2023, the press auto-response message for Twitter was set up as a poop emoji. However, Mr Musk revealed in the summer that he planned to change that to a "we will get back to you soon' infinite loop".