Since Elon Musk took over Twitter last year and converted it to X, critics have warned that his plans for the popular social network could lead to an explosion of hatred on the platform.
Now, blue-chip advertisers like Apple and Disney are reportedly fleeing X amid an outbreak of anti-Semitic content on the site — including posts from the billionaire owner himself.
X’s content policy pointedly prohibits “targeting individuals or groups with content referencing forms of violence or violent events of which a protected category was the primary target or victim, when the intent is to harass “, including “text referencing or describing… genocides (e.g., the Holocaust)”, but anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi content continues to appear on the network.
Mr. Musk drew widespread condemnation on Wednesday when he responded to a tweet echoing claims of the racist and often anti-Semitic “great replacement” theory, including that Jews were “flooding” America with “hordes of minorities » to promote “dialectical hatred against white people”. call the affirmation of “the real truth”.
This theory was among the hateful ideas directly evoked by the shooter who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
Mr. Musk later pointed the finger at the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group that monitors anti-Semitism and forms of extremism, affirming the group promotes “de facto anti-white racism.”
ADL’s CEO responded to the claims, calling them “dangerous.”
“At a time when anti-Semitism is surging in America and exploding around the world, it is unquestionably dangerous to use one’s influence to validate and promote anti-Semitic theories,” he said. written the.
The White House also weighed in, accusing the tech CEO of spreading “abhorrent promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hatred.”
“It is unacceptable to repeat at any time the hideous lie behind the deadliest act of anti-Semitism in American history, let alone a month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” said the White House in a press release.
But the controversy was only just beginning.
The next day, Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media monitoring group, released an analysis showing ads from major brands like Apple, NBCUniversal, IBM and Oracle appearing alongside overtly pro-Nazi tweets on X.
For example, a message claiming that Hitler and the Nazis represented a “spiritual awakening” appeared directly above an advertisement for Apple Mac computers.
Overall, in the already tense cultural context of the war between Israel and Hamas, this seemed to be a breaking point for major advertisers, who were already wary of what the new X/Twitter would look like.
On Thursday, IBM said Financial Times he had “suspended all advertising on X while we investigated this totally unacceptable situation”.
A source at Apple told Axios that the company is doing the same, and a spokesperson for Lions Gate Entertainment confirmed that it is also joining the exodus.
Disney also suspended its spending on The New York Times reports.
The independent has contacted X for comment.
The leaders of Company X appeared alternately apologetic and nonchalant.
“X’s point of view has always been very clear: discrimination by everyone should STOP at all levels – I think that’s something we can and should all agree on,” Linda Yaccarino , CEO wrote Thursday on X. “Regarding this platform, X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat anti-Semitism and discrimination. There’s no place for that anywhere in the world – it’s ugly and bad.”
Mr. Musk, for his part, alternated jokes and explanations.
He sharing a clip of someone playing a video game level called “Echo of Hatred”, with the caption “overcoming hatred is never easy”, while approve a message about a book that claims that IBM’s punch card technology enabled the Nazis to carry out the Holocaust.
“Clear calls for extreme violence go against our terms of service and will result in suspension,” he said. wrote elsewhere on X Friday.
Although this week took the X controversy to new heights, it’s not the first time the social network has been accused of fostering anti-Semitism.
In September, Mr. Musk threatened to sue the ADL, accusing the watchdog group of “trying to kill this platform” by accusing it of anti-Semitism.
“To be very clear, I am in favor of freedom of expression, but against any form of anti-Semitism,” he said. added.
At the time, the ADL said The independent He would not comment on legal threats, but noted that Mr. Musk was working on the same side as a “Ban the ADL” campaign created by self-described anti-Semites.
“The ADL is neither surprised nor discouraged that anti-Semites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and other trolls have launched a coordinated attack on our organization. This sort of thing is nothing new,” the ADL spokesperson said.
“Such insidious efforts do not intimidate us. Instead, they challenge us to remain steadfast in our commitment to fighting hate in all its forms and keeping Jewish communities and other marginalized groups safe. »
Elsewhere, the channel has been accused in recent days of allowing neo-Nazis to take advantage of X’s creators’ revenue sharing program.
This summer, a study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate claimed that X failed to remove 99% of a selection of hateful content flagged by the group. The group alleged that “the platform allows them to break its rules with impunity and even algorithmically reinforces their toxic tweets.”
X disputes these conclusions.
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