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Elon Musk’s Backing of Antisemitic Content May Cost “X” Up to $75M in Ad Revenue

Many major companies have paused or stopped advertising on the platform in recent weeks.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and X, speaks to reporters as he leaves the “AI Insight Forum” at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on September 13, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

Elon Musk, the owner of X (formerly known as Twitter) may have cost the company tens of millions of dollars in lost advertising revenue due to his recent comments endorsing an antisemitic and racist conspiracy theory, internal documents show.

According to The New York Times, these documents find that the social media platform could lose as much as $75 million from advertising by the end of this year, with large companies like Apple, IBM and Disney pulling ads and others like Airbnb, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Netflix cutting back, pausing, or considering stopping their advertising campaigns on the platform.

The documents suggest that the company is struggling even more with revenue than previously reported, more than a year after Musk bought the company. The company has already reportedly been losing a large amount of ad revenue after the company made moves like removing user verification from the platform and seemingly easing up dramatically on moderation, which some reports have found have allowed a deluge of hateful content to flourish.

The Times report comes after Musk endorsed a version of the virulently hateful “great replacement theory” in tweets earlier this month.

In a post on November 15, an X user 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.”

Musk agreed with this post in a reply, saying, “You have said the actual truth.” He followed up by saying that “The [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.” (A leader of the ADL, a vehemently Zionist organization, initially criticized Musk for the comment but turned around and defended him just two days later when Musk went on to denounce the anti-Zionist movement.)

Musk’s comments were widely and strongly condemned, with some commentators noting that it was one of the most openly antisemitic comments that the powerful right-wing billionaire has made in public. However, the posts may not have been entirely surprising, as Musk has been making other comments in recent months that have also hinted at his support of great replacement theory.

The initial user’s post, as well as Musk’s follow up about the “threat” of “minority groups,” perpetuate a bunk conspiracy theory that Jewish and non-white communities are threatening to destroy and replace white populations in countries that have historically been majority-white. The theory has deep roots in white supremacy, and has become more popular among the right in recent years as the Republican Party has spiraled further into fascist, Christian nationalist extremism.

At the same time, Musk has embroiled X in a legal battle with media watchdog group Media Matters for America after it published a short report purporting that advertisers have had their content displayed next to content by neo-Nazis, like those endorsing Hitler or the Nazi party. The report showed screenshots of ads from Apple, IBM, and other companies whose content had allegedly appeared next to such content.

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