ADL to resume advertising on Elon Musk’s X despite lingering antisemitism concerns

After weeks of animosity, Anti-Defamation League says it appreciates recent statements by social media platform’s leadership to address hate on site; Musk welcomes development

Workers install lighting on an 'X' sign atop the company headquarters, formerly known as Twitter, in downtown San Francisco, July 28, 2023. (Noah Berger/AP)
Workers install lighting on an 'X' sign atop the company headquarters, formerly known as Twitter, in downtown San Francisco, July 28, 2023. (Noah Berger/AP)

JTA — Following weeks during which Elon Musk has attacked the Anti-Defamation League and threatened to sue it for billions of dollars, the Jewish civil rights group announced that it would resume advertising on X, the social media platform Musk owns.

In a statement on Wednesday, the ADL said X, along with similar sites, still “has a serious issue with antisemites and other extremists using these platforms to push their hateful ideas and, in some cases, bully Jewish and other users.”

But the group cited declarations by the leadership of X, which Musk renamed from Twitter, that it would combat antisemitism. Musk has had live-streamed conversations recently with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as a group of largely right-leaning Jewish men in which he spoke out against antisemitism while also emphasizing his commitment to free speech. Also last week, X CEO Linda Yaccarino said the platform is taking steps to counter antisemitism.

“We appreciate X’s stated intent over the last few weeks to address antisemitism and hate on the platform,” the ADL’s statement said. “This has been useful; more needs to be done; and, as we have with other companies, in the spirit of collaboration, we are hopeful that we can continue to engage with X on this important matter.”

Musk and the ADL have been at odds for about a year. Soon after Musk’s takeover of the platform in 2022, the ADL encouraged companies to pause their ad spending on the site in protest of Musk removing guardrails against hate speech, though at one point, the ADL resumed its own paid ads on the platform.

About a month ago, Musk launched into a series of attacks on the ADL, accusing its call for an ad boycott of depleting half the company’s value. He threatened to sue the ADL for billions of dollars and reacted to posts by white supremacists on the platform, though he also wrote that he is “pro free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind.” In subsequent weeks, he had the public conversations with Netanyahu and the panel of Jewish men.

Elon Musk, CEO of X, the company formerly known as Twitter, tightens his tie as he arrives for a closed-door gathering of leading tech CEOs to discuss the priorities and risks surrounding artificial intelligence and how it should be regulated, at Capitol Hill in Washington, September 13, 2023.(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

In its statement, the ADL repeated points its CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, had made previously in recent interviews with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and other outlets — including that it wants to work with platforms to address antisemitism in a meaningful way; that it is committed to opposing hate across the political spectrum; and that it is not the driving force behind X’s significant loss of ad revenue.

“To be clear, any allegation that ADL has somehow orchestrated a boycott of X or caused billions of dollars of losses to the company or is ‘pulling the strings’ for other advertisers is false,” the statement said. “Indeed, we ourselves were advertising on the platform until the anti-ADL attacks began a few weeks ago. We now are preparing to do so again to bring our important message on fighting hate to X and its users.”

Musk reacted to the statement in two brief posts.

“Thank you for clarifying that you support advertising on X,” he wrote. “And also very much appreciate that ADL has bought advertising on X.”

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