NEW YORK >> Billionaire Elon Musk said Wednesday that advertisers who have halted spending on his social media platform X in response to antisemitic and other hateful material are engaging in “blackmail” and, using a profanity, essentially told them to go away.
“Don’t advertise,” Musk said.
He appeared to specifically call out Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger, saying, “Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience … that’s how I feel.”
In an on-stage interview at The New York Times DealBook Summit, Musk also apologized for endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory in response to a post on X that helped fuel an advertiser exodus.
The comments come just two days after Musk visited Israel, where he toured a kibbutz attacked by Hamas militants and held talks with top leaders.
Musk has faced accusations from the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights organization, and others of tolerating antisemitic messages on the platform since purchasing it last year. The content on X, formerly Twitter, has gained increased scrutiny since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October.
A slew of big brands, including Disney and IBM, this month stopped advertising on the platform after a report by liberal advocacy group Media Matters said their ads were appearing alongside pro-Nazi content and white nationalist posts.
X has since sued Media Matters, saying the Washington-based nonprofit manufactured the report to “drive advertisers from the platform and destroy X Corp.”