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Monday, December 4, 2023

Disney, Comcast, Lionsgate pull ads from X over antisemitic posts

Disney, Comcast, Lionsgate and Paramount Global on Friday joined the growing string of companies that are pulling ad money from X, formerly Twitter, after Elon Musk promoted an antisemitic post and a media watchdog reported that corporate ads were appearing alongside hate speech.

It’s the latest blow to the social media platform, which experienced a flight of advertisers after Musk bought the site roughly a year ago. Apple also reportedly pulled advertising from the platform Friday, a particularly big loss for X — the tech giant was the platform’s largest advertiser, accounting for nearly $50 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2022.

Spokespeople from Disney, Comcast, Lionsgate and Paramount confirmed they have suspended advertising on the platform. Apple’s decision to pull its advertising from X was reported by Axios.

The Thursday report from the left-leaning nonprofit group Media Matters for America revealed that Musk’s social media platform had been placing ads for major brands such as Apple next to antisemitic content, such as memes portraying Nazism as a spiritual awakening and Adolf Hitler quotes presented in an inspirational style.

After the report was released, IBM said Thursday that it would stop advertising on X. In a statement, the tech company said it has “zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination.”

“We have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation,” IBM said in a statement.

Other companies identified on the Media Matters list — such as Coca-Cola, Chipotle, Best Buy, Meta, Oracle, General Motors and Xfinity — did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Antisemitic content on social media has grown markedly in the past month following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack against Israel. Musk has amplified antisemitic content on his platform in recent days, replying to an X user who said Jews supported “hordes of minorities” and promoted “hatred against whites.”

Musk replied, “You have said the actual truth.”

A Lionsgate spokesperson said the company suspended advertisements on X on Friday afternoon, saying the decision was spurred by “Elon’s tweet.” Lionsgate is an entertainment and film distribution company.

The corporate defections come about a year after Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, with a goal of ridding it from what he called a “woke mind virus.” As Musk continues to loosen the site’s restrictions on speech, insiders have said the company’s financial outlook is “dire” as the platform struggles to attract and retain major advertisers.

The string of companies leaving the platform this week also presents another challenge for CEO Linda Yaccarino, who has been struggling to revive the company’s advertising business. In a message posted Thursday, she said that “X’s point of view has always been very clear that discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board.”

“I think that’s something we can and should all agree on,” she wrote. “When it comes to this platform — X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.”

In multiple postings on X, Musk appeared to dismiss criticism of his comments by agreeing with various supporters who had rushed to his defense.

“At risk of stating the obvious, anyone advocating the genocide of *any* group will be suspended from this platform,” he wrote.

Will Oremus contributed to this report.

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