Elon Musk is in the news for what feels like the 100th time this year, and this time it's because he has, essentially singlehandedly, driven some of the world's biggest companies away from advertising on Twitter / X after he appeared to promote antisemitic viewpoints on the platform regarding a highly controversial conspiracy theory.
Here's what you need to know about Musk's latest controversy and why so many brands are pulling their ads from the platform.
Why Are People Accusing Elon Musk Of Being Antisemitic?
Elon Musk's latest foray into controversy may be his costliest yet. Last week, Musk waded into a back-and-forth between a user who posted a PSA about talking to kids if parents catch them posting antisemitic viewpoints online.
To the cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and posting "Hitler was right":
You got something you want to say? Why dont you say it to our faces… pic.twitter.com/WGkwTrXyTF
— Charles Weber (@CWBOCA) November 15, 2023
In response, X / Twitter user @breakingbaht wrote, "Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them. I'm deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don't exactly like them too much."
To this comment, Elon Musk replied with, "You have said the actual truth."
Musk went on to elaborate, adding, "The ADL [Anti-Defamation League] unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel. This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat. It is not right and needs to stop."
The point Musk seemingly agreed with and expressed in his own thoughts aligns with The Great Replacement conspiracy theory, aka "White Genocide," which posits that an unknown group of actors (often characterized as Jews), are intentionally bringing non-white immigrants into white countries in order to eliminate white people.
The theory was notably cited as a motivation behind the 2018 Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting.
What Has Been The Response To Elon Musk's Tweets?
Many on social media were appalled that Musk appeared to be agreeing with someone espousing the Great Replacement theory. At first, users were shocked that more people weren't talking about it, but headlines did come over the following days.
Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino even attempted to quell the outcry, saying X is committed to combatting antisemitism, but few bought her line of reasoning when the owner of the site had just amplified a white supremacist talking point without consequence from X.
The next set of dominoes to fall were advertisers, as major brands such as Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, Comcast, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. Discovery and Apple all pulled advertising from Twitter as a result of Musk's tweets.
More companies, including Bravo, IBM, Oracle and Xfinity, pulled their ads after a Media Matters investigation found that ads for those companies were reportedly being shown next to pro-Nazi content on the platform.
It's unclear if the Media Matters report was motivated by Musk's tweets, but it did come out just two days after them. As a result of that report, the EU Commission advised services against advertising on Twitter / X.
Musk then filed a lawsuit against Media Matters for the report, but some legal experts have said his defense is weak, as it appears the publically available lawsuit admits that pro-Nazi content was indeed shown next to various advertisements.
Elon Musk is so mad about all the advertisers fleeing X, he announced he’s going to sue Media Matters
and in his statement, he appears to confirm the accuracy of their reports in an attempt to downplay it
good luck with that lawsuit pic.twitter.com/xuhUiESGs0
— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) November 18, 2023
For his part, Musk denied that he is antisemitic, but it has done little to stem the serious repercussions of his tweets. On November 20th, Jerry Braakman, President of First American Trust, wrote a statement arguing that "Tesla’s board should put Musk on leave for 30 to 60 days and require him to attend empathy training and/or therapy."
For more information, check out the Elon Musk Antisemitism Controversy entry on Know Your Meme.