Elon Musk’s companies experienced a chaotic weekend with explosions and failed launches.
Elon Musk had a tumultuous weekend with several events taking place. In addition to the unexpected failure of one of his rockets, the American billionaire also faced the withdrawal of advertising from his social media platform, X, by prominent companies such as Apple, Disney, and IBM.
Several well-known companies have recently announced their decision to halt advertising on the social media platform, previously known as Twitter. This comes following the public endorsement by an American billionaire of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Last Wednesday, the billionaire responded to a post promoting the conspiracy, claiming that Jews were responsible for promoting hatred towards white people, stating that this was the “real truth”. He has since clarified that his criticism was directed towards specific organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and not towards the Jewish community as a whole.
Before the unexpected malfunction of his Starship rocket in the Texas sky on Saturday, the tech entrepreneur was already facing criticism and controversy due to a costly row. Despite the sudden explosion of the booster and loss of communication with the rocket, Musk’s reputation was already being heavily scrutinized by the media, potentially leading to further negative consequences.
Many top brands and notable individuals have quickly distanced themselves from the website, despite Musk’s assertion that he is intentionally being misrepresented by individuals seeking to weaken free speech and harm his platform.
Worried sponsors, including the European Commission, Comcast, Paramount TV, and Lionsgate movie studio, have either halted or postponed their advertising efforts on X until the platform’s owner provides more clarity on their stance.
Over the weekend, Musk became aggressive and declared that he will take legal action against Media Matters, a US-based watchdog group, on Monday. The organization has been actively highlighting instances of antisemitism on X. In their latest report, they brought attention to the fact that X had expensive advertisements placed next to content promoting Nazi ideology, including quotes from Adolf Hitler and denying the Holocaust.
There has been speculation about the wisdom of well-known brands being associated with the site since Musk gained control of Twitter a year ago. However, the recent armed conflict in the Middle East has led to some companies pulling their advertisements from the site. IBM was the first company to do so on Thursday, following the Media Matters investigation. According to reports from the New York Times, IBM had planned to spend $1 million on the site for the rest of the year.
Many are currently urging for Musk to step down, including Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. The White House has also expressed their disapproval of the propagation of anti-Semitic and racist hate, using strong language. Notable users, like American music producer Steve Greenberg, have also declared their decision to leave the platform this weekend. According to Greenberg, it has transformed into a “hateful and perilous” space.
On Friday, as concerns over anti-Semitic material on X escalated, Musk promptly implemented additional measures to prohibit any “calls for extreme violence” against Israel. In a statement, he clarified that individuals who use the controversial phrase “from the river to the sea” on the platform will face suspension.
The action was praised by the ADL, who believes that using this phrase is a secret message to destroy Israel. The organization’s leader, Jonathan Greenblatt, expressed his approval and appreciation for the decision.
Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, announced on Friday evening that the platform has made significant efforts to address and prevent antisemitism and discrimination. She emphasized that there is no tolerance for such behavior anywhere in the world.
Musk has faced multiple accusations of harboring anti-Semitic tendencies. In a public statement, he targeted wealthy Jewish financier George Soros, likening him to a villain from a comic book and insinuating that he holds a deep hatred for humanity. Additionally, rather than denouncing actor Mel Gibson’s history of anti-Semitic remarks, Musk instead chose to commend his physical appearance in response to a racist tweet.
In the past, Musk has faced backlash for engaging with a social media account that promotes antisemitism and supports QAnon conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric. He received additional criticism in May when he shared a quote that stated, “To discover who holds power over you, identify who you are forbidden to criticize.”
The statement, often misattributed to philosopher Voltaire, was actually said by American neo-Nazi Kevin Alfred Strom in a radio broadcast in 1993.