Not even 24 hours transpired between Elon Musk endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory on X, formerly Twitter, and his appointed CEO of the company, Linda Yaccarino, declaring that the site has made “efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination.” Predictably, her tweet was met with a deluge of replies pointing out that the platform’s owner — her boss — has done as much as anyone to amplify white nationalist ideology online.
On Wednesday, Musk engaged in a thread that began with X user @CWBOCA sharing a PSA from the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, in which a father confronts his son for posting “Hitler was right” on social media. “To the cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and posting ‘Hitler was right,’” the user wrote in the tweet. “You got something you want to say? Why don’t you say it to our faces.”
To this, another user, @breakingbaht, replied: “Okay. Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” The post went on to claim that Jewish populations in the West were starting to realize that minorities “flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much,” and added, “You want truth said to your face, there it is.”
In a reply to this antisemitic comment, Musk wrote, “You have said the actual truth.” Musk’s initial post has received five million views, according to X metrics. He then renewed his grievances against the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish advocacy nonprofit he has previously tried to blame for X cratering in value since his takeover last year. (There is no basis for his claim that the ADL drove advertisers off the platform, and many brands have cited Musk’s own erratic behavior as their reason for abandoning ship.)
Hours later, when a Dutch conservative commentator took to X to complain that white people are not “allowed to be proud of their race,” Musk voiced his agreement, saying that it’s “super messed up.”
Then, on Thursday, IBM confirmed that it was withdrawing advertising from X following a report on how their ads were running against pro-Nazi content. Paid ads for other major companies, including Apple and Comcast, also appeared next to such toxic extremism, per the report.
Yaccarino, however, appears to remain in complete denial about X’s collapse into outright antisemitism and white nationalism, accelerated by Musk’s own politics as well as a stew of misinformation and violent rhetoric regarding the present war between Israel and Hamas militants.
“X’s point of view has always been very clear that discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board,” she tweeted on Thursday. “When it comes to this platform — X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world.”
The CEO’s post, which neither identified recent examples of antisemitism nor clarified exactly what X is doing to “combat” its presence on user feeds or in proximity to advertisements, is at odds with a stark reality: X has utterly failed to contain hate speech in recent weeks. Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate — a nonprofit that Musk happens to be suing for tracking a rise in racism, extremism, and misinformation on the app since he took ownership of it — reported this week that X did not remove 98 percent of hundreds of posts they’d flagged as hateful since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. These encompassed both antisemitic and Islamophobic material, praise for Adolf Hitler, and glorifications of violence in the Middle East.
Responses to Yaccarino’s uncontexualized announcement of X’s supposed moderation policies were withering. “I’m not really seeing the fight against antisemitism on the website owned by a man who regularly agrees with posts saying Jews are bad,” read one reply. Another drew attention to the headlines Musk made the day prior with his approving comment about a user’s antisemitic tweet. And several users answered with screenshots of, or links to, tweets containing hateful slurs, claiming the site had taken no steps to remove these posts or suspend the accounts.
All in all, it was another humiliation for Yaccarino, who has been subject to harsh appraisals from X’s user base since Musk hired her in May, and led to renewed speculation that she would not last much longer in what many view as a token position with little authority. One respondent asked, “[H]ow many times are you gonna try to run interference for [Musk] like this before you just resign?” Of course, each day she passes up another chance to salvage some dignity, given Musk’s impulsive streak, she just might get fired first.