Last week, Elon Musk appeared to endorse antisemitic conspiracy theories and posted about supporting white pride on his social platform X, formerly Twitter. Musk’s tweets were then highlighted by a Media Matters article that found advertising from major companies had shown up next to pro-Nazi content. Major advertisers then halted their ad spends on the platform. To address the controversy, CEO Linda Yaccarino sent a memo titled “Our Work Is Meaningful,” reiterating her commitment to X.
As pressure mounts for the company to distance itself from supporting antisemitism, Forbes reported that advertisers are urging Yaccarino to resign as well. A former NBCUniversal chairperson with close ties to the ad industry, Yaccarino had been brought into Musk’s company to restore relationships with the companies that make up the majority of X’s revenue. Advertisers were already concerned their paid content would show up next to antisemitic or otherwise bigoted posts, but they’re especially worried now, when the platform’s owner seems to be actively stoking conspiracies about the Jewish community.
Addressing X employees in a company-wide email, Yaccarino expressed her enthusiasm about the company’s current direction. In the memo, first published by The Hollywood Reporter and obtained by The Verge, she claimed that advertisers had “temporarily paused investments” — an interesting way to phrase major advertisers like Apple, Disney, and IBM pulling their business from the platform because of Musk’s seeming endorsement of antisemitism. She also blamed articles that she believed had been “manipulated” for damaging the platform’s reputation. “The data will tell the real story,” she wrote in her memo, possibly a reference to Musk’s post / screenshot indicating that he would sue Media Matters.
In response, Media Matters’ president Angelo Carusone said, “Elon Musk has spent the last few days making meritless legal threats, elevating bizarre conspiracy theories, and lobbing vicious personal attacks against his ‘enemies’ online. Even if he does not follow through with his threat to sue, the volatility of actions reinforce why major brands are rightly skittish of partnering with X.”
Meanwhile, Semafor reports that Yaccarino has enlisted her son Matt Madrazo to reboot X’s political advertising business, in hopes to make up for the revenue lost by the “temporarily paused investments” of what previously were some of the company’s biggest clients.
Read Linda Yaccarino’s full memo below:
Across every corner of this company, we’re working to create a platform for everyone. And 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. What we’re doing matters, which means it naturally invites criticism from those who do not share our beliefs.
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.
I want to encourage you to read and listen to all the feedback. On one side, there’s a vocal minority trying to use deceptive attacks to undermine our work. But on the other side, there are vocal supporters and courageous partners who believe in X and the meaningful work you are all doing. Hold on to that and keep pushing forward. No critic will ever deter us from our mission to protect free speech.
Let’s keep putting our values to work and lean on one another. I am extremely proud to be on the front line with you all — and I’ll see you all at the office tomorrow morning.