Elon Musk may have put the final nail in X’s coffin. On Wednesday, Musk appeared to endorse an antisemitic post by user @breakingbaht alleging that “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” In response, Musk posted, “You have spoken the actual truth.”
The original post seemed to echo the beliefs of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which is popular among white supremacists and right-wing extremists. The backlash has been swift. In a statement earlier today, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates condemned the “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” and marquee advertisers have been quick to pull their business. IBM, Disney, Liongsgate, and the European Union have pulled advertising from X in response to Musk’s post. According to a report in Axios, Apple has also paused advertising on X.
At the time of publication, Apple had not responded to multiple requests for comment, nor has it confirmed that it is pulling its advertising from X.
“Advertisers like IBM and Apple aren’t just big names, they’re big spenders on X,” says Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a media watchdog group which has been tracking advertiser behavior on X. Carusone, citing data shared by data insights firm Sensor Tower, says that in July, the top five advertisers on X by spending were Apple, FinanceBuzz.io, Amazon, Mondelez International, and Hewlett-Packard. In the past, Apple has frequently been among the top 20 advertisers on X.
Carusone adds that Apple typically signals a certain level of brand safety to other, smaller advertisers. The company is also known for its stringent policies around controversial content in its App Store and on its own platforms. If Apple has paused, or plans to pause, its advertising on X, it “could have a halo effect,” Carusone claims, scaring other advertisers away from the platform. “It goes way beyond money.”
In August, X CEO Linda Yaccarino emphasized that the company was expanding its brand-safety tools, designed to give advertisers and marketers more control over what kind of content their ads appeared in proximity to.