Friday, March 1, 2024

Elon Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic post on X as “the actual truth” of what Jewish people were doing received backlash less than 24 hours later. As a result, IBM paused its advertising on the social media platform while X’s chief executive, Linda Yaccarino, and others at the company scrambled to contain the fallout.

X employees received calls from advertisers expressing concerns about Mr. Musk’s comments and the appearance of their ads next to white nationalist and Nazi content. IBM reportedly cut off about $1 million in advertising spending on X for the last three months of the year in response to the situation.

In a note to employees on Thursday morning, Ms. Yaccarino emphasized that “X is a platform for everyone” and that “discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board.” She later shared a similar message on X and stated that the company has been clear about its work to fight antisemitism and discrimination.

IBM released a statement saying, “has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination, and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.”

X did not respond to a request for comment. The Financial Times earlier reported on IBM’s pause in advertising on X.

Mr. Musk, who bought Twitter last year and renamed it X, has faced increasing criticism that he has tolerated and even encouraged antisemitic abuse on his social media platform. He has attacked George Soros, the financier who is a frequent target of antisemitic abuse, and threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, a rights group that has highlighted the rise in antisemitism on X.

On Wednesday, Mr. Musk agreed with a post from an X account accusing Jewish communities of pushing “hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” Mr. Musk replied to the post, claiming, “You have said the actual truth.”

Jewish groups have compared the statement endorsed by Mr. Musk to the “Great Replacement Theory,” the far-right idea that minorities are replacing white European populations.

Social media platforms in general have faced rising scrutiny since Hamas attacked Israel last month and Israel retaliated. Antisemitic and Islamophobic hate speech has surged across the sites and has been especially prominent on X, according to the Anti-Defamation League and researchers. On Wednesday night, more than a dozen Jewish creators and celebrities also confronted TikTok executives in a private meeting, urging them to do more to address a rise in antisemitism and harassment on the video service.

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