The past two days have seen many prominent companies pause their ad spending on X (formerly Twitter) in the wake of that company’s owner Elon Musk calling an antisemitic post “the actual truth.” Musk did that Wednesday in response to a tweet saying “Jewish communties [sic] have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them” and claiming those communities are supporting the immigration of “hordes of minorities.”
That was one of many blows for X on this front this week. On Thursday, Media Matters for America published a story titled “As Musk endorses antisemitic conspiracy theory, X has been placing ads for Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity next to pro-Nazi content.” And, after that, IBM paused advertising spending on X Thursday.
On Friday, MMFA added Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal, and more to the list of companies with their ads placed next to pro-Nazi content. And Apple and Lionsgate paused their advertising with X Friday. ESPN parent company Disney then did the same late Friday afternoon. Ryan Mac, Brooks Barnes and Tiffany Hsu of The New York Times covered that news Friday:
The blowback over Elon Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory on X gathered steam on Friday, as several major advertisers on his social media platform cut off their spending after his comments.
Disney said it was pausing spending on X, as did Lionsgate, the entertainment and film distribution company. Apple, which had been on track to spend $180 million on X last year, also suspended advertising on the platform, a person with knowledge of the situation said. They followed IBM, which cut its spending with X on Thursday.
And Warner Bros. Discovery paused their own X ad spending later Friday, amidst reports that NBCUniversal parent Comcast and Oracle might also do the same. And CBS parent Paramount Global has now done the same as well, as has NBCUniversal parent Comcast.
This could be a big problem for X, as Musk specifically praised Disney and Apple as some of the platform’s largest advertisers earlier this year. Of course, a pause doesn’t mean that money is for sure going away for good. But it certainly won’t be coming into the X coffers any time soon.
And this comes at a rough overall time for the platform. Musk bought Twitter for $43 billion last April (after initially trying to back out of that deal), but valued it at just $19 billion in filings late last month about restricted stock units awarded to employees. And the banks that loaned Musk $13 billion of that purchase price are expecting to lose $2 billion on their loans.
The platform has seen countless controversies and lots of criticism since Musk’s takeover. And the appointment of ex-NBCUniversal ad chief Linda Yaccarino as X CEO in May didn’t calm all concerned advertisers. And now, some of the biggest advertisers remaining on the X are at least suspending their campaigns, if not pulling them permanently. It will be interesting to see what that means for X going forward, especially as the platform still carries a significant role in real-time sports news and game discourse despite a growing number of competitors.