Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on following a conversation on mental health, during a spousal program on the last day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week at Apple Park in San Francisco, California, on November 17, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
Apple and Disney have paused online advertising campaigns on X, formerly Twitter, after owner Elon Musk said he agreed with a social media post accusing “Jewish communities” of pushing “hatred against whites,” according to sources familiar with both companies’ moves.
Warner Bros Discovery, Paramount Global and Lions Gate Entertainment are also suspending campaigns on the social media service, spokespeople for the company confirmed. Additionally, a spokesperson for Comcast, which owns Bravo and Xfinity and is also the parent company of CNBC, said Friday that it is pausing its online advertising campaigns on the real-time messaging service.
The iPhone maker was singled out in a report published this week by the nonprofit group Media Matters for America as one of a handful of big companies, including IBM, Bravo, Oracle and Infinity, whose online X ads were displayed next “to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.”
An IBM spokesperson said Thursday that the tech giant would halt its online ad campaigns on X: “IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.”
Apple, Disney and Oracle did not respond to requests for comment.
A coalition of 163 Jewish leaders, activists and academics representing both major political parties also issued a statement this week in response to Musk’s recent behavior, calling on businesses such as Disney, Apple and Amazon “to stop funding X through their ad spend.”
The X Out Hate group originally urged those companies to suspend their online advertising campaigns on X in September, when Musk insinuated that he would file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League, alleging that the ADL was “trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic.”
At the time, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who also criticized Musk’s recent controversial X posts this week, dismissed the Tesla chief’s rhetoric as a “threat of a frivolous lawsuit.”
“It has been two months since we originally put out our call for large advertisers like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Disney to stop funneling money onto X as antisemitism explodes on the platform,” the Jewish leaders said in their latest statement. “Nothing has changed. Except for the danger Jews are in.”
Also on Friday, the White House publicly criticized Musk over the billionaire’s tweets. White House spokesman Andrew Bates said it was “unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time.” Bates appeared to be referring to the mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, in which 11 people were shot to death by a gunman who expressed a belief in the antisemitic “white genocide” conspiracy theory.
Musk also acknowledged the advertiser backlash on Friday via his X messaging service.
“As I said earlier this week, “decolonization”, “from the river to the sea” and similar euphemisms necessarily imply genocide,” Musk wrote. “Clear calls for extreme violence are against our terms of service and will result in suspension.”
“I appreciate this leadership in fighting hate,” Greenblatt said.
During an interview with CNBC’s David Faber in May, Musk addressed the notion that his X posts could be perceived as inflammatory, but he brushed those concerns aside.
“I’ll say what I want, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” Musk said at the time.
— Steven Kovach and Alex Sherman contributed reporting.
Watch: IBM pauses advertising on X after Elon Musk receives backlash for antisemitic post