Within a day of Elon Musk publicly endorsing a post on X, IBM decided to suspend its advertising on the social media platform. The controversy erupted when Musk expressed agreement with a post that many considered to be promoting antisemitic ideas, leading to concerns among advertisers about their brand’s proximity to such content, including white nationalist and Nazi-related material.
According to internal messages seen by The New York Times, X employees received inquiries from advertisers regarding Musk’s comments and the placement of their ads alongside objectionable content. IBM, in response, decided to halt approximately $1 million in advertising spending that it had previously committed to the platform for the remainder of the year.
In a message addressed to the employees, X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, emphasized that X is meant to be an inclusive platform for all and called for an end to discrimination of any kind. She reaffirmed the company’s commitment to combating antisemitism and discrimination.
IBM issued a statement stating that it has “zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination” and had suspended all advertising on X while it investigates the situation.
X, formerly known as Twitter before Musk’s acquisition, has been facing mounting criticism for tolerating and allegedly encouraging antisemitic abuse on the platform. Musk’s previous actions, including his criticism of financier George Soros and threats against the Anti-Defamation League, have fueled concerns about his approach to addressing antisemitism on X.
Musk’s recent endorsement of a post accusing Jewish communities of promoting hatred against whites has drawn comparisons to the controversial “Great Replacement Theory,” a far-right idea suggesting that minorities are replacing white European populations. Jewish advocacy groups and organizations have strongly criticized the spread of such ideas on X.
The rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate speech on social media platforms, including X, has come under increased scrutiny, particularly since the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel. Organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and researchers have noted a surge in such content on the platform.
On a related note, a group of Jewish creators and celebrities recently held a private meeting with TikTok executives to address the growing concerns of antisemitism and harassment on the video-sharing platform.
Elon Musk had met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September, following accusations of antisemitism. During the meeting, Netanyahu humorously remarked on the challenges of dealing with negative perceptions, to which Musk jokingly responded, denying any personal experience with being maligned.
At X, CEO Linda Yaccarino had previously taken action regarding antisemitic content on the platform. Earlier this month, she intervened when antisemitic posts remained online despite being flagged by a sales employee. It was reported that the employee who reported the posts is no longer with the company. X’s trust and safety team is actively investigating the situation, given concerns raised by employees and reports from groups like Media Matters for America, which highlighted major brands’ ads appearing alongside white nationalist and Nazi-related content on X.