Apple, Disney among brands reportedly pulling ads from X amid growing antisemitic content backlash

IBM previously suspended its ads, citing concerns about hate speech.

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More major advertisers are pulling their ads from X amid a growing backlash to antisemitic content on the platform. Apple, Disney and Lionsgate are all reportedly suspending ads from the platform days after X owner Elon Musk appeared to publicly endorse an antisemitic conspiracy theory, according to Axios and The New York Times. Warner Brothers Discovery also paused its ads, according to Deadline, as did Paramount Global per CNBC.

The companies join IBM, which confirmed Thursday it was suspending its ads while it investigated a report that found ads for its Watson division appearing next to pro-Nazi content. The report, published by watchdog group Media Matters, also found ads for Apple, Oracle and other tech companies alongside similar content.

An executive at X previously told Engadget that the posts identified by Media Matters were no longer monetizable and that “the X system is not intentionally placing a brand actively next to this type of content, nor is a brand actively trying to support this content with placement.” X CEO Linda Yaccarino also said that “X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination.”

Many of X’s advertisers have long been concerned about the state of hate speech on the platform, but the departures of Apple, Disney, Lionsgate and IBM are a new blow to the company’s already struggling ad business. And it appears that a recent tweet from Musk, in which voiced agreement with an account promoting an antisemitic conspiracy theory, has prompted more advertisers pull back from the platform, at least temporarily.

Axios reported that Apple opted to “pause” all advertising on the platform, though it’s not clear whether the decision was driven by Musk’s tweet, Media Matters’ report or both. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but this wouldn’t be the first time the company has raised concerns about the direction of the platform under Musk’s leadership, and its role as a major advertiser. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in September the company was “constantly” questioning whether it should continue advertising on X. Apple also briefly paused ads on X (then Twitter) last year, amid a "misunderstanding" between the two CEOs.

The latest advertiser exodus comes one year after civil rights groups called for an advertiser boycott following Musk’s takeover of Twitter amid concerns about rising hate speech and relaxed content moderation policies under Musk. Though some major Twitter advertisers returned to the platform, the company’s ad business never rebounded. Musk said over the summer that the company’s ad revenue was down more than 50 percent.

Update, November 17 2023, 6:55PM ET: This story has been updated to note that Disney and Lionsgate have joined Apple in pausing advertising on X.

Update, November 17 2023, 7:15PM ET: This story has been updated to reflect reports that Warner Brothers Discovery has also pulled its ads.

Update, November 17 2023, 7:45PM ET: This story has been updated with CNBC's report that Paramount Global has also pulled ads from X.