IBM, EU, suspend advertising on X over anti-Semitic content, disinformation

IBM and the European Union pulled ads from X in response to anti-Semitic posts on the platform. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/ UPI
1 of 2 | IBM and the European Union pulled ads from X in response to anti-Semitic posts on the platform. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/ UPI | License Photo

Nov. 17 (UPI) -- American tech giant IBM and the European Union pulled advertising from Elon Musk's X amid concerns over hate speech and disinformation on the platform.

IBM said it was pausing all advertising on the platform, formerly known as Twitter, pending an investigation into a report that its ads were running side-by-side with anti-Semitic content.


"IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation," the New York-based firm said Thursday in a statement to CNBC.

IBM took the action in response to a report by the not-for-profit group Media Matters for America that found its advertisements, as well as those of Apple, Oracle, Bravo and Xfinity, were placed next to posts promoting Hitler and the Nazi Party on X.

X said it had cut off the revenue streams of the accounts flagged by the group as posting hate content and restricted their reach by marking them "not safe for work."


A spokesman said X's system was "not intentionally placing a brand actively next to this type of content, nor is a brand actively trying to support this content with placement" and that Media Matters was trying to trip it up.

"Groups like Media Matters aggressively search for posts on X and then go to the accounts, and if they see an ad, Media Matters researchers keep hitting refresh to capture as many brands as possible."

Additionally, the European Commission has announced that it will stop running ads on X in response to similar concerns, Politico first reported.

On Friday, European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke told reporters, "we have seen an alarming increase in disinformation and hate speech on several social media platforms in recent weeks, and X is certainly quite effective on that."

"We have therefore advised services to refrain from advertising at this stage on concerned social media platforms," Bahrke continued.

The decisions were amid a growing backlash triggered by Musk's apparent endorsement of an anti-Semitic post on X on Wednesday, prompting more than 160 Jewish leaders to step up their appeals to Disney, Apple, Amazon, and other large advertisers, to stop funding X through their ad spending.


A group, calling itself "X Out Hate," also urged Apple and Google to remove X from their app stores and the public to complain directly to the companies.

"Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has doubled down on his support for Elon Musk. Google has deepened its relationship with X by partnering with them on ads," said the group.

"It has been two months since we originally put out our call for large advertisers like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Disney to stop funneling money onto X as anti-Semitism explodes on the platform. Nothing has changed. Except for the danger Jews are in."

Musk took to social media to clarify that his post was primarily directed at the Anti-Defamation League's advertising boycott efforts.

CEO Linda Yaccarino, who has been wooing back advertisers who quit the platform after Musk purchased it in October 2022 with some success, said the company had been "extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination."

"There's no place for it anywhere in the world -- it's ugly and wrong. Full stop."

The White House Friday denounced Musk's comment.

"It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of anti-Semitism in American history at any time," White House Spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement Friday.


"Like President Biden said weeks ago memorializing the victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, the Oct. 7 'devastating atrocity has brought to the surface painful memories left by millennia of anti-Semitism;' and under his presidency 'we will continue to condemn this abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms," Bates continued.

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