Apple, Disney, Comcast among X advertisers pausing spending after Musk endorsed antisemitic post

After X owner Elon Musk amplified antisemitic conspiracy theories on the platform, numerous high-profile advertisers have paused their spending on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Since Friday, per various news reports, the following advertisers have paused their spending on X advertisements:

  • Apple

  • Comcast/NBCUniversal

  • Disney

  • Warner Bros. Discovery

  • IBM

  • Paramount Global

  • Lionsgate

  • European Commission

Per research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, X has failed to moderate hate speech on its platform that promotes antisemitic conspiracies, praises Hitler and dehumanizes Muslims and Palestinians. But X isn't just keeping these posts up; its owner, Elon Musk, is fanning the flames of such hatred. In a particularly egregious incident last week, Musk replied, "You have said the actual truth" to a post that echoed the same violent antisemitic conspiracy theory that was espoused by the killer from the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue attack.

Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media watchdog, published a separate report last week, showing how ads from companies like Apple, IBM, Bravo, Oracle and Xfinity have appeared next to posts that praise Nazi ideology. In a statement, X said that the report "completely misrepresented the real user experience on X, in another attempt to undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers." Throughout his tenure as X's owner, Musk has sued or threatened to sue nonprofit organizations like the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation League, alleging that their reports are responsible for the increasingly tenuous relationship between X and advertisers.

"The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company," Musk wrote in a post on X.

In a statement that Musk posted, X claims that Media Matters deceived advertisers and engineered a contrived experience on the platform in order to view ads alongside antisemitic content. Media Matters highlighted nine posts that the organization believes should violate X's content policies, but X said only one post was found to be in violation and taken down. X seems to have suspended an account that denied the historical legitimacy of the Holocaust, but did not take action against a post that refers to Nazism as a "spiritual awakening," or posts that praise white supremacist Nazi ideals.

Linda Yaccarino, X's new CEO and former advertising executive at NBCUniversal, has attempted to calm advertisers, though her efforts don't seem to be working, as advertisers continue to pause spending.

"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 and should all agree on," she wrote on Thursday afternoon. "When it comes to this platform -- X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There's no place for it anywhere in the world -- it's ugly and wrong. Full stop."

X's advertising business has been volatile since last year, when Elon Musk officially became the owner of the platform formerly known as Twitter. About a month after he took over, Musk tweeted that Apple had "mostly stopped advertising on Twitter." But after meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook at the company's Cupertino headquarters, the two seemed to settle some disagreements. Then, in January, the company inked deals with adtech companies DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science (IAS) to help advertisers make sure their ad is not placed around inappropriate content, and the appointment of Yaccarino in May was supposed to assuage advertiser's concerns about the increasingly hostile platform. But Musk continues to dig the platform's own grave by alienating key revenue drivers.

As Musk continues to entertain antisemitic conspiracies, the White House weighed in with a statement condemning the promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.

"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," wrote White House spokesperson Andrew Bates. "We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans."

Update, 11/20/23 at 11:00 AM ET, with information about additional advertisers pausing spending.