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Updated Nov 17, 2023, 6:06pm EST
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Semafor Signals

Advertisers flee Elon Musk’s X following antisemitic post

Elon Musk Twitter account is seen in this illustration taken, July 24, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Computing giant IBM has pulled its advertisements from social media platform X after a report found its content appearing next to hate speech.

The watchdog Media Matters found that ads from top companies, including IBM, Apple, Oracle, and Xfinity appeared next to posts promoting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

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“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,” IBM said.

The European Union has also suspended its ads on the site, citing reputational damage and disinformation, Politico reports.

Earlier this week, X owner Elon Musk appeared to endorse an antisemitic post.

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While Musk’s apparent endorsement of the antisemitic post did not directly cause advertisers to jump ship from the platform, the billionaire’s erratic behavior on his social media site is having a knock-on effect for his other businesses. One Tesla investor told Bloomberg this week that Musk’s behavior was “appalling,” and had the potential to damage the brand long-term. Kristin Hull, founder and chief executive officer of Nia Impact Capital, which invests in Tesla, said she was concerned by the lack of punitive action against Musk by the car manufacturer’s board.

Hate speech has skyrocketed on X since Musk purchased the site last year. Hateful content jumped shortly after the billionaire took ownership, and antisemitic content shot up by 61% just two weeks after the purchase, The New York Times reported at the time. The issue has not subsided: Earlier this week, The Center for Countering Digital Hate found that since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, site moderators have failed to remove antisemitic, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim content from X.

X has faced declining revenue and user counts since Musk took the reins. Site users have dropped by 15% year-over-year as people flee the platform, in many cases to rival sites like Meta’s Threads and Bluesky. Revenue from ad sales has dropped by 54%, The Wall Street Journal found, after many advertisers fled last year. Some advertisers have returned to the site, but they’re spending less than they did before: In September, Musk said X’s U.S. advertising revenue had dropped 60%.

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