X CEO Linda Yaccarino came to the defense of Elon Musk after the platform’s owner verbally flipped off advertisers who pulled back amid concerns about brand safety and antisemitic content.
“Today @elonmusk gave a wide ranging and candid interview at @dealbook 2023,” Yaccarino posted on X just before midnight Wednesday. “He also offered an apology, an explanation and an explicit point of view about our position.”
Musk’s “candid interview” with The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin at the outlet’s DealBook conference included the billionaire telling Disney CEO Bob Iger and other big advertisers to “Go f–k yourself” — a phrase he repeated for emphasis.
“If somebody’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money,” Musk said, using the term to refer to efforts to influence content moderation on the site through advertising spending. “Go f–k yourself.”
“Is that clear?” the billionaire added. “That’s how I feel.”
But his feelings come in the face of reality at the platform that has lost 54.4% of its advertising revenue in the year since Musk bought what was then called Twitter for $44 billion. The company recently valued itself at $19 million.
The problems largely stem from the unregulated flow of hate speech and antisemitic posts, particularly since the Israel-Hamas war started Oct. 7. Musk compounded the issue with his own endorsement of an antisemitic trope on Nov. 15, though on Wednesday he attempted to tamp down his action by stating that it was largely taken out of context and “subsequently clarified in replies,” that the media ignored.
“Antisemitism was not my intention,” he told Sorkin in a comment later widely mocked on X.
Musk has also sued Media Matters for America after the watchdog found X was not adhering to its own brand-safety measures, and that antisemtiic content showed up next to major companies’ ads. In addition to Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate, Apple and IBM all suspended their advertising on the platform following that report.
Yaccarino, the former head of NBCUniversal’s advertising business, who was brought to the platform to help lure major advertisers back, defended Musk’s statements.
“X is enabling an information independence that’s uncomfortable for some people,” the executive said in her post. “We’re a platform that allows people to make their own decisions.
“And here’s my perspective when it comes to advertising: X is standing at a unique and amazing intersection of Free Speech and Main Street — and the X community is powerful and is here to welcome you,” she continued. “To our partners who believe in our meaningful work — Thank You.”