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Elon Musk on Advertisers Withdrawing from X: ‘Go F--- Yourself’

'The whole world will know those advertisers that killed the company'

Elon Musk on Advertisers Withdrawing from X: ‘Go F--- Yourself’

Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk does not care if advertisers come back to X and compared their withdrawal from the platform to blackmail. 

While appearing at The New York Times DealBook Summit, Musk was asked about the criticism he faced in recent weeks and its impact on the business.  

“I hope they stop,” he said to the interviewer, Andrew Ross Sorkin. 

“You hope…?” Sorkin responded in surprise.

“Don’t advertise,” said the Tesla founder.

“You don’t want them to advertise?” said Sorkin.

“No,” said Musk.

Musk went on, “If someone is going to try and blackmail me with advertising – blackmail me with money – go f--- yourself.”

Some members of the audience laughed. 

“Go f--- yourself,” Musk repeated slowly. The laughter intensified. 

“Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey Bob! If you’re in the audience,” he continued, seemingly referring to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who, during an earlier interview at the summit, commented on Disney's withdrawal of advertising from X.

“I have a lot of respect for Elon and what he has accomplished,” Iger said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “We know that Elon is larger than life in many respects, and that his name is very much connected to the companies he founded or owns. By him taking the position he took in a public manner, we felt that the association was not necessarily a positive one for us.”

“What this advertising boycott is gonna do – it’s going to kill the company,” Musk continued. “And the whole world will know those advertisers that killed the company. Everyone will document it in great detail.”

“But those advertisers, I imagine, they’re going to say, ‘We didn’t kill the company,’” said Sorkin. “They’re going to say, Elon, that you killed the company because you said these things and they were inappropriate things and that they didn’t feel comfortable on the platform. That's what they are going to say.”

“And let’s see how Earth responds to that,” replied Musk. 

A number of major companies pulled their advertisements from X two weeks ago after the progressive watchdog organization Media Matters accused X of placing advertisements next to alleged conspiracy theories and hate speech. Musk later engaged with a post questioning the political bias of the Anti-Defamation League. 

The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel,” he wrote in a subsequent post, per Newsweek. “This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat."

X filed a lawsuit against Media Matters earlier this month alleging the nonprofit "knowingly and maliciously manufactured" images depicting X advertisers appearing next to posts featuring "Neo-Nazi and white nationalist fringe content."

Paramount Global, Comcast, Disney, Warner Bros, and IBM all pulled their ads from the platform.

Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, authored a memo reiterating her dedication to the company despite the loss of advertisement revenue.

“There is no other platform that’s working as hard to protect free speech like X. Our work is critical, but it’s not always easy,” she wrote, per The Verge. “While some advertisers may have temporarily paused investments because of a misleading and manipulated article, the data will tell the real story. Because for all of us who work at X, we’ve been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination, as there’s no place for it anywhere in the world.”

The DealBook Summit is an annual event that hosts business and policy leaders to discuss current events. In addition to Musk and Iger, Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to attend the event. 

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