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Elon Musk has words for departing X advertisers: ‘Go f–k yourself’

Click to play video: '‘Go f**k yourself,’ Elon Musk tells advertisers who left X'
‘Go f**k yourself,’ Elon Musk tells advertisers who left X
Billionaire Elon Musk told advertisers who have fled his social media platform X over antisemitic content to "Go f**k yourself" during an interview at a New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday. Musk has faced a torrent of criticism ever since he agreed with one X user who falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people. – Nov 30, 2023

Elon Musk has some words for advertisers who are fleeing X (formerly Twitter) en masse following his endorsement of an antisemitic post on the platform: “Go f–k yourself.”

“Don’t advertise. If someone is going to try and blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f–k yourself,” Musk said during an awkward interview at the New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday.

“Go f–k yourself, is that clear? Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience. That’s how I feel, don’t advertise,” he continued, speaking to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was in attendance at the summit and spoke earlier in the day.

(L-R) Andrew Ross Sorkin and Elon Musk speak onstage during The New York Times Dealbook Summit 2023 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Nov. 29, 2023 in New York City. Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images for The New York Times

Earlier this month, the billionaire endorsed an antisemitic post on X that falsely claimed members of the Jewish community were stoking hatred against white people.

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The post drew sharp condemnation from many, including the White House, and several companies — including Disney, Apple and IBM — halted advertising on the platform as a result.

The Tesla boss apologized on Wednesday for that post, saying it might be the “dumbest” thing he has ever shared online. The antisemitic conspiracy theory was “one of the most foolish if not the most foolish thing I’ve ever done on the platform.”

“I’m sorry for that tweet or post,” he said.

Linda Yaccarino, X’s chief executive, was in the room Wednesday, and addressed Musk’s comments in a post on X, where she called the interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin “wide ranging” and “candid.”

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“We’re a platform that allows people to make their own decisions,” Yaccarino wrote late Wednesday night. “And here’s my perspective when it comes to advertising: X is standing at a unique and amazing intersection of Free Speech and Main Street — and the X community is powerful and is here to welcome you. To our partners who believe in our meaningful work – Thank You.”

Yaccarino was hired as CEO of X in May, coming from the role of global advertising chief of NBCUniversal. She was given the task of wooing advertisers back to the company after Musk took over in 2022.

On Wednesday, Musk acknowledged that an extended boycott by advertisers could bankrupt X, but suggested that the public (“the Earth,” in his words) would blame the brands and not him for a potential collapse.

The company has come under fire for lax content moderation, especially from advertisers who do not want their ads appearing next to inappropriate content.

“We believe there is risk that more companies will stop advertising on X; at least on a short-term basis,” D.A. Davidson & Co analyst Tom Forte told Reuters of the potential for more fallout after Musk’s profanity-laced tirade.

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“It is fair to say this makes the company’s subscription efforts more important and potentially means it may need more than half its revenue to come from subscriptions.”

In an interview with the BBC in April, Musk said “almost all of them (advertisers) have either come back or they’re going to come back.”

Three months later he acknowledged in a post on X that ad revenue had fallen by 50 per cent.

According to the BBC, before Musk took over at X, advertising made up about 90 per cent of the firm’s revenue.

It’s unclear how much revenue is generated by ads, as X is now a private company and no longer publishes quarterly reports.

— With a file from Reuters

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